Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Pain and How Local Orthodontist Can Help You.

Why do you need to consult an orthodontist nearby?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a common orthodontic problem. TMJ refers to a sliding hinge-like joint that attaches the jawbone to the skull. There is a TMJ on either side of the jaw. Once you develop a certain temporomandibular disorder (TMD), your jaw joint and the surrounding muscles are likely to hurt. According to dental experts, it is usually difficult to know the real cause of a patient’s TMJ disorder. One may be genetically prone to TMJ dysfunction or may have an undiagnosed jaw injury or chronic arthritis.

In addition, some of the people who have a teeth grinding problem can develop a TMJ-related type of pain. If you feel pain in the jaw, the best thing to do right now is to get in touch with a good orthodontist nearby. He or she might treat your TMD without surgery and show you how to easily manage the condition at home. If your orthodontist strongly thinks that surgery is necessary, he or she will have it performed it in the safest way possible.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders represent a bunch of conditions that trigger pain and loss of function in the jaw joint and the muscles surrounding it. According to orthodontists and researchers, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are categorized into three. These include myofascial pain, internal derangement of joint and arthritis. Myofascial pain is all about the discomfort that is felt in muscles that regulate your jaw function.

Internal derangement of the joint entails a dislocated jaw, displaced disc or an injured condyle. If you suffer from a jaw problem, our first advice is that you should locate a reputable orthodontist Hollywood clinic. This clinic will assign your case to a well-trained expert who will trace the root cause of your jaw pain. And if they can not, they will provide you with a referral to another specialist and guide you in this process.


What are the symptoms of TMD or TMJ disorder?

The first thing that will tell you that something is wrong with your jaw is pain. If you have jaw pain, chances are that you have an ongoing case of TMD and have to seek medical help. Pain is often noticed when one is chewing, particularly by people who habitually chew gum. The kind of pressure felt in teeth after chewing a lot of gum is the same felt when there has been jaws and muscles overuse. When you chew or grind your teeth excessively, your masseter muscle can be damaged and this can disrupt the role of your TMJ.

Then a muscle knot shall form and cause extreme pain that can radiate to the rest of your body. These knots are alternatively called TrPs(trigger points) and while they are ignored by most dentists, they can cause jaw pain. Additionally, significant pain can be felt in the jaw if TMD alters the position and structure of the jaw. This sort of pain can be so terrible that the victim may be unable to talk, yawn or chew food. Stiffness in the neck is yet another sign that one has TMJ disorders and can limit the total movement of your jaw by locking it.

If your jaw is locked, you will be unable to make side to side head movements. And when opening or closing your mouth, the jaw might produce those popping or grating sounds accompanied by pain. If there is no pain, there may or may not be presence of a TMJ disorder. As your jaw might change its structure and position due to temporomandibular disorders, don’t be surprised if you have a misaligned bite that even braces or clear teeth aligners will not be able to fix. It is important to seek help form your local orthodontist regarding orthodontic care and different orthodontic treatments in the very early stages of suspected TMD.

It is easy to think that your jaw is hurting because of a decayed or an abscessed tooth. However, there are certain symptoms that can point to a TMJ disorder. These are:

  • Pain that is specifically felt in one or both TMJs
  • Pain that affects the ears
  • Pain that is felt when chewing food
  • Facial pain
  • The joint may lock itself, causing inability to easily open or close the mouth
  • The affected jaw joint might produce some clicking or popping noises
  • Headaches
  • There might be swelling on the affected side of your face. This might also affect your neck or shoulder.
  • Stiff jaw muscles

In severe cases, TMDs can cause tinnitus (ringing in ears), dizziness, blurred vision and mild hearing loss.


Why do some people develop TMJ disorders?

Although orthodontists don’t know the exact cause of temporomandibular joint disorders, they do offer suggestions. First, they are of the view that trauma or injury to jaw or the joint itself can cause a TMD. Additionally, teeth or jaw misalignment may lead to the development of a TMJ disorders. Other causes are genetics, certain kinds of arthritis, given dental appliances, teeth clenching, constant gum chewing and poor posture. The only sure way to know the possible cause of your jaw pain is to see the best orthodontist nearby.


Who is at risk of developing TMD?

Some behaviours and factors can increase a person’s risk for TMJ disorders. These include:

  • Having bad bites or malocclusions
  • Being unable to control stress, as it is known to magnify muscle tension and jaw clenching
  • Being a woman of a reproductive age (ages 18 to 44 years). This makes you much more likely to develop TMJ disorders than your male counterparts
  • If you have a severe case of inflammatory arthritis
  • Any person who has recently sustained a jaw or tooth injury
  • Those with poor posture issues as this can lead to neck strain and jaw muscle dysfunction.
  • Anyone who is genetically predisposed to developing TMJ syndrome.


What may have caused your TMD?

TMD can affect your face, head or jaw and tends to affect women two times as regularly as men. The main thing that can provoke TMD is trauma to your face or jaw. If there is no trauma or injury that you have suffered at present or in the past, or if there is a bad bite or misaligned teeth, chances are that there is an underlying cause and that an orthodontist near your area can help you.

It is advisable to As Mayo Foundation stated in 2015, TMD tends to occur when the discs in your jaw begin to deteriorate or lose their original alignment. This damage, in given cases, can be due to the presence of arthritis. Erosion of your jaw discs can be so serious that your jaw may break and in such a situation, it can only be restored via surgery. In severe cases that stay untreated, the victim’s bones can chip and enter the skin.

TMD cases mostly arise from severely tense masseter muscle. It is situated along the side of your jaw and protrudes from underneath your cheekbone down the side of your face. Its bottom is connected to the jaw. Masseter is believed to be the strongest muscle in the entire human body. If there are difficulties with this muscle, severe pain can result and if there is a lot of tension, a lot of health problems can arise. These include earaches, tinnitus or ringing in the ear, jaw clicking/popping, headaches, earaches, malocclusion (bad bite), faintness, sleeplessness, and grinding and clenching of teeth. While you may not develop all these symptoms at once, seeing some means that you need orthodontic help.

Bruxism( teeth grinding and clenching) may demand serious dental treatment and surgery, in given situations. This is if the erosion and chipping of teeth is so severe. Bruxism tends to be more problematic when the jaw itself is misaligned. All the same, it is not clear whether bruxism causes TMD or TMD causes bruxism. According to Cawson, 2002, the matter is debatable. That not withstanding, bruxism is a dental problem that affects over 30 percent of the American population and most of them don’t even realize it. The masseter can radiate pain directly to a specific painful tooth in your mouth and you might first think you have a new cavity. At this point, it would be prudent to go see your dental specialist so he or she can determine the real cause of your pain.


How is TMD / TMJ disorder diagnosed?

As with other medical cases, your orthodontist will start by taking your medical history and carrying out a thorough physical exam to locate the cause of pain and other symptoms. Since there is no specific diagnostic test for the TMJ syndrome, your dental expert can perform an MRI scan of your TMJ. This will help him or her to detect any level of damage to the jaw joint cartilage and rule out a health problem. If need be, you might be referred to an ENT specialist (an otolaryngologist or a doctor who diagnoses ear, nose and throat problems), TMD expert or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

In the end, he or she will find out if you have swollen lymph nodes, giant cell arteritis, sore throat or a salivary gland disease that is causing your jaw pain. They might also discover that your dental appliances such as dentures or braces are ill-fitting and causing your jaw pain. Moreover, you might have trigeminal neuralgia. This is a health problem that occurs when the trigeminal nerve that transmits nerve impulses to the TMJ gets inflamed. Its symptoms are similar to those of TMJ. Once a TMJ disorder is confirmed, your TMD specialist will create a suitable treatment plan.


What are treatment options for TMD/TMJ disorder?

Although some TMJ disorders can disappear on their own after several weeks or months, there is need to seek medical help. A great orthodontist nearby can check if the bite is causing the problem and suggest how to alleviate your jaw pain with medicines and other non-surgical techniques. One thing that all orthodontists aim at is offering treatment options that cannot alter your jaws or teeth permanently. These reversible cures are tried first, as they are known to stop most temporomandibular joint disorders. These entail the following:

  • OTC(Over-the-counter) pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Prescribed drugs like muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, opioids, steroid injections, and nerve pain drugs and so on.
  • Stabilization splints such as a night guard and biteplate.
  • Simple and safe stretching and relaxation jaw exercises.


In case your jaw pain is resulting from your top and bottom teeth not biting properly, chances are that you have a need of braces. Dental braces can improve your bite and can help with your pain in the jaw. Your orthodontist can detect bite anomalies and recommend braces to place your teeth in more balanced place.

When time comes to receive your treatment, expect your orthodontist near you to ask you some questions. These will help your orthodontic specialist develop a clear treatment plan. First of all, they will want to know the types of medicines you are currently taking, including TMD drugs. Secondly, they will ask if you have been to a different clinic that provided a night guard or if you bought it directly from an over-the-counter shop. Other questions he or she will ask are if you have ever had surgery or botox in the past and whether you have ever been diagnosed with bruxism.

Still, your dental specialist will want to know about your symptoms, including pain in your TMJ, masticatory muscles, clicking or pointing joint noises, myofascial pain and jaw stiffness and others. It is imperative to speak openly to ensure that your orthodontist gets you the perfect cure. Tell him or her whether your symptoms have ever faded away after wearing a night guard or if there was a time that the pain was so bad that it prevented you from going to work.

Lack of a robust treatment plan could mean that your TMD symptoms will not be properly addressed and might show up again in the near future. Therefore, during your first appointment with your doctor, speak boldly and exhaustively to assist your orthodontist develop a clear treatment approach. The right way to determine the level of damage caused to the temporomandibular joint is to order a MRI or a CT-scan test, according to Brody, 2009. After the results are received and interpreted, your dentist will determine how best to treat you. If you are offered surgery, it means that the physician doesn’t see any other way your TMJ disorder can be cured.

Surgery has its pros and cons and that’s why we would ask you to speak to your orthodontist fully prior to accepting it. Note that some surgical operations could actually worsen your TMD case, leading to a waste of time and money. Unless this is totally impossible, the best dental specialist provides the least expensive but extremely effective treatment methods. These techniques, as said by the Academy of General Dentistry in 2015, include posture training, orthopedic appliances, physical therapy and counseling. But if you have severe teeth fractures that have resulted from bruxism, yours might be a surgical case to eliminate pain.

Still on how to remove your pain without surgery, your orthodontist might ask you to start eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and applying ice or heat packs. As noted earlier in this article, excessive chewing of gum could cause damage to the masseter muscle and in return, TMD symptoms could worsen or start showing. When chewing food, you will be advised to adapt to a gentler chewing pattern rather than an intense one. As TMD symptoms are short-lived, based on what’s causing them, you shouldn’t rush to do a permanent treatment like surgery.

Try the above-mentioned simple techniques with the help of your oral specialist, of course, and see if you will feel better. Improving your posture is one of those simple techniques that might end your TMD symptoms. When sleeping, for instance, always try not to lie on your stomach or face or to rest your head upon your wrist or arm. If you do these things, your TMJ pain will increase. Another good point to keep in your mind is that tracking and recording your pain patterns is important.

As TMD pain is difficult to diagnose, unless you recently had an injury, your orthodontist may not be right the first time he or she tries to find it. So, keep a journal that will show the intensity and length of your pain. If you notice your pain behavior, your dental specialist might adjust your current cure. For instance, it may be discovered that you actually have arthritis while all along your oral physician thought your jaw pain was caused by trauma. In such a case, he or she will direct you to a doctor who can treat your arthritis successfully.

In case your jaw pain is resulting from grinding your top and bottom teeth, chances are that you have stress. The only time your teeth should meet is when you are chewing but not when you have shut your mouth. If there is a problem like this, your physician can give you important and easy tips on how to avoid clenching your teeth when it’s not needed.

Massage is also known to improve TMJ pain, but only when up to twelve trigger points are manipulated by a true expert. If want this to be of help to you, pay a professional masseuse or acupuncturist to help you. Ask your orthodontist to recommend the best experts or search for them on your own online. Massage is one of the least expensive ways of dealing with TMD and pain and it can be effective if the trigger point number seven is particularly massaged. It refers to the intersection of the temple and the masseter muscle.

A massage action that is focused on the area above and below your cheekbone is extremely helpful. If the pain is related to damaged teeth or gums, massaging this TrP will get rid of your TMJ pain. Your therapist can also show you how to soothe and relax this trigger point when you go home. Since the masseter muscle is the most robust we have, it has to be pressed deeply, firmly and steadily. Thus, you cannot completely do without professional help as your therapist can safely and correctly apply pressure directly to the masseter muscle using their knuckles. At the same time, they will restrain themselves from exerting excessive pressure that could hurt the muscle. Besides getting rid of the pain, massage can alleviate stress and without stress, people will hardly grit their teeth when it’s not needed.

Physical therapy will include special exercise that will promote the healing of all the areas affected by pain. Your therapist will teach you special exercises that you can do even after your TMD pain disappears to ensure that you reduce your chances of having it again in future. If all the above tricks fail, the dental specialist won’t have a choice but to operate on you. Surgery is invasive and can be productive or counterproductive. No wonder, it’s the last resort or when all the other techniques have failed to yield good results.


Be careful who you pick to treat you

Orthodontists are well-educated medical professionals. However, their education level alone shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when trying to select the best orthodontist. Make sure that each professional you are evaluating boasts certification from Accredited American Orthodontic Program. If they have good education and certification, now consider their level of experience and current ratings. Some orthodontists have everything except empathy, and will not miss a chance to extort money from you if they can. Hence, ensure that a dentist has a good reputation and excellent user ratings. If they have been rated positively, there is a possibility that you will as well like their dental services concerning TMJ disorders.

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