Your lower jaw is hinged by a joint called the temporomandibular joint. This enables you to move your jaw up and down and from side to side so you can talk, eat and even yawn comfortably. So what happens if you develop problems with this jaw joint? These are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and can affect not just the jaw joints, but the facial muscles responsible for moving them.
What Can Cause TMD?
TMD is thought to be caused by a number of different factors, but dentists are not exactly sure why it develops. It could be due to problems with the muscles surrounding the jaw joints or it might be an issue with the actual joint. TMD may also be caused by some sort of trauma to the joint and it is often attributed to stress. IF you grind or clench your teeth (bruxism) then this can lead to TMD and bruxism is a condition frequently linked to stress.
What are the Symptoms of TMD?
TMD can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and may affect one or both sides of your face. The most common symptoms are feeling pain in your jaw or having problems with opening up your mouth properly. You might notice your jaw clicks or pops when you do open or move your mouth. Your teeth might not fit together as well as they used to and you could have persistent headaches.
How Can TMD Cause Headaches?
People with TMD can often experience recurring tension headaches which will not respond to conventional treatments. The pain may even extend down into the neck and shoulders and is often misdiagnosed by physicians who are unfamiliar with TMD.
Visit Your Dentist for a Proper Diagnosis
IF you do have any of these symptoms or have been struggling with bad headaches for a while, it is worth booking an appointment with your dentist at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center Brooklyn. They will be able to examine your jaws and can carry out diagnostic tests such as x-rays or even a CT scan to see if the joints are inflamed and painful. This will enable then to prescribe the correct treatment.
How is TMD Treated?
If the problem is caused by your teeth being out of alignment then you may need treatment to adjust the way your teeth bite together. This might involve restorative work to build up teeth that have become broken down, or sometimes orthodontics to correct the way they are arranged.
The most traditional treatment is to wear a night guard as TMD is often caused by bruxism, a habit which tends to be nocturnal. If you tend to clench or grind all the time then you might need to wear a splint to prevent your teeth from contacting. Preventing clenching or grinding reduces stresses on the jaw joints, giving them an opportunity to recover.
You may also want to try home remedies in conjunction with professional dental care. Simply learning relaxation techniques can be helpful, as can sticking to softer foods which don’t require extreme jaw movements or lots of chewing.
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