The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw (the mandible) to the upper temporal bone (a part of the skull). This joint is active when we speak, chew, laugh, or move our lower jaw in any other way. Our TMJ is responsible for so many of our daily movements. Too much activity, pressure, or tightness placed on the joint can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD. It is commonly referred to as TMJ, but that is simply the name of the affected joint.
How do I know if I have TMD?
TMD may manifest as jaw pain, head pain, migraine, ear pain, limited jaw movement, cracking or popping of the jaw, facial swelling, dizziness, or other feelings of facial/cranial discomfort. The sensations may range from mild to severe, and can develop into persistent problems if left untreated. The only way to determine if the pain you feel results from TMD is with a visit to your Oakland dentist.
The first step will be to ascertain the reason behind your TMD. The most common causes are notorious tooth grinding/clenching. Grinding, along with more complex issues like malocclusion, can be resolved with a simple TMD splint.
TMD – The Great Impostor
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What is a TMD splint? Will it restrict my jaw?
Dental splints perform functions similar to those accomplished by athletic splints. Mouth guards with TMD-specific applications, splints are made of either hard or soft plastic. Depending on your condition, a splint may cover all or select teeth on be worn on the upper or lower jaw. These splints are generally unobtrusive, and are often worn solely at night to protect teeth from night grinding. TMD splints alleviate the symptoms of TMD:
– Splints allow overworked muscles and ligaments to relax. This release of facial tension cuts down on stress-induced clenching and grinding.
– The physical sheath of the splint protects tooth surfaces from wear, stopping the onset of sensitivity, gum recession, and cracked or chipped teeth.
– Specialized splints work to correct malocclusion so that the bite is not detrimental to the TMJ (and does not aggravate jaw muscles).
Though some TMD splints may seem like they temporarily restrict your lower jaw, their ultimate effect is to expand your jaw’s range of movement and capability. Our Oakland dentist finds that’s well worth it.
Botox for TMD
Botox is injected into facial muscles to relax them and prevent them from contracting. Botox’s applications are not merely cosmetic: it may be used to relieve the TMJ tightness that leads to TMD. By injecting Botox at your jaw, our Oakland dentist may be able to relax your jaw and provide you relief. If you’re curious about a splint-free answer to TMD, call our Oakland dental practice to enquire about receiving Botox.