and Kevin G. Murphy & Associates
Do you experience frequent clicking and popping or lockjaw when you open and close your mouth? These are two common signs that you may suffer from TMJ dysfunction, also known as TMD. This condition can impact your day-to-day life by causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms and making everyday tasks like chewing food or laughing painful. To learn more about how we stop the constant discomfort of TMJ dysfunction, schedule a consultation with one of our professionals for TMJ therapy in Baltimore.
Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is the set of small hinges that is located in front of your ears. This joint allows your lower jaw to move freely, giving you the ability to speak, laugh, and eat. The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body. Due to a misaligned bite, teeth grinding, and other factors, it is possible to develop tension and chronic pain. This is what’s known as TMJ dysfunction, or TMD.
There are numerous symptoms that can occur as a result of TMD, including some that don’t even seem to be related to the jaw. In addition to clicking and popping of the joint when opening the mouth, here are just some of the more common signs of the dysfunction:
One of the most underdiagnosed causes of frequent headaches and migraines is TMD. The jaw muscles become tense, strained, and overworks, so it is easy for this to affect the nearby muscles in the head.
Since the TMJ is located so close to the ears, a dysfunctional joint can easily lead to ear pain. TMD can also cause people to develop a constant tone or ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.
Jaw stiffness and pain are the most common symptoms associated with TMD. It can be difficult to chew comfortably, and lockjaw can occur when attempting to open or close the mouth. Pain can range anywhere from a constant, dull ache to flashes of sharp pain.
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, can be caused by daily stress, a misaligned bite, and TMD. It primarily occurs during sleep. As a result, the enamel is worn down and the jaw muscles become overworked.
So many factors can lead to TMD. To diagnose this dysfunction, we will closely examine your joint. This way, we can see exactly how it moves and determine the proper alignment for your teeth and jaw. With this information, we can create a personalized treatment plan to reduce and eliminate the negative symptoms for good.
The good news is that there are several ways to successfully treat TMD. Depending on the cause of your TMD and the severity of your symptoms, we will put together a plan to help you get some relief. Here are a couple common treatment options:
Occlusal splints are customized orthotic devices that we may suggest helping reduce the prevalence of uncomfortable TMD symptoms. Each mouthguard is individually made for every patient’s unique dental structure and should be worn at night, as you sleep. Once placed in your mouth, it will act to shift your jaw into its ideal position to relieve your joints of additional strain and stress, as well as protect your mouth from the harmful effects of grinding and clenching your teeth.
If the underlying problem resulting in TMD pain is due to bite misalignment or an improperly placed restoration, we may suggest occlusal adjustments. During this process, we’ll strategically and gently reshape your teeth, so they come together in a more functional manner that doesn’t cause your jaw joints to strain. To pinpoint the areas of your bite that may be under additional pressure, we’ll take an impression of your teeth and gently buff them down for lasting relief.