TemporoMandibular Joint disorder (TMD) symptoms range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain in the face, head, neck, and teeth, which may also include ear aches and spasms of the facial muscles. When teeth don’t line up properly in the upper or lower jaws it’s called malocclusion. A malocclusion may contribute to stress resulting in muscle and jaw pain. TMD however is often multi-factorial and exacerbated by increased stress. Left untreated (chronic TMD) parts of the jaw joint will start to collapse and degrade, producing more inflammatory—sharper and more focused—pain.
FAQs About TMJ Treatment
What causes malocclusion?
A malocclusion occurs when your upper and lower teeth do not fit together in an ideally. When this occurs, tooth positions can shift, sometimes creating an asymmetry of the jaws. This may result in prematurely worn teeth, stress on your jaw hinges, and muscle tension.
A good bite meshes your teeth together like the gears in machinery. But a bad bite can have many negative ramifications including severe headaches and muscle spasms. Initial symptoms may include popping and clicking in your jaw joints when you open your mouth to eat or yawn. Signs of possible TMD are chronic headaches, difficulty opening your mouth, difficulty chewing certain kinds of food, or a ringing/popping sound in one or both ears.
What can be done?
During your consultation Dr. Ko or Dr. Yoon will complete a clinical exam and review of your symptoms and records. Depending on your case, a splint may initially be recommended to help alleviate your TMD symptoms. A splint worn consistently helps to open your bite, diminish clenching/grinding habits (parafunction), which alleviates excess pressure on the jaw joints, thus reducing acute symptoms.
Once TMD symptoms have improved with splint therapy, the doctor may recommend orthodontics (along with splint wear) to help correct your bite – providing you with a long-term solution and relief from your TMJ symptoms.