What Is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a common condition affecting the lives and comfort of millions of Americans. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on each side of the head where the lower jaw attaches to the skull. As the most commonly used joints in the body, the TMJ enable all types of oral function, from opening and closing to chewing, yawning, and even swallowing. Sometimes the TMJ or surrounding muscles become damaged or injured, leading to the often debilitating condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction. If you are experiencing pain or hearing sounds when you open your jaw, schedule an appointment with our State College, PA general dentists to determine if you have TMD. At our state-of-the-art family dental practice, we use innovative techniques to evaluate for and relieve TMJ pain and other symptoms of TMD.
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Common Signs and Symptoms of TMD
Temporomandibular joint disorders commonly affect the lives, oral function, and comfort of millions of Americans. TMD might be brought on by an injury to the jaw, a habit of jaw clenching or teeth grinding (bruxism), or misalignment of the teeth (dental malocclusion). Other conditions that can lead to TMD include a tumor in the jaw joints or arthritis. In some cases, the reason behind TMD is uncertain, but if you are experiencing signs and symptoms, our dentists can diagnose and treat your TMJ pain and condition. Some of the most typical symptoms of TMD include:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Spasms in your facial muscles
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Uneven interface between upper and lower teeth
- Popping, cracking, or grinding sounds when opening
- Limited jaw movement or difficulty when chewing
- Jaw that feels "stuck" or locked in place
- Ringing in the ears or earaches
TMD Diagnosis and Treatment
To help diagnose temporomandibular dysfunction, our dentists will listen carefully to understand your concerns and perform a physical examination of your jaw, joints, and mouth. During the exam, they will assess how your jaw moves and look for factors that may contribute to the condition, such as bite misalignment, teeth grinding, and jaw clenching. Our dentists might take digital x-rays of your jaw and jaw joints and perform an analysis of your bite to search for underlying factors that will help determine the ideal treatment method. Once your comprehensive TMJ assessment is complete, we will review our findings and discuss your treatment options. TMJ treatment may include night guard therapy, occlusal (bite) adjustment, orthodontics, dental restorations, cortisone injections, or advanced treatment solutions. Our dentists and team understand the discomfort TMD can cause and will work closely with you to relieve your TMJ pain and bring comfort to your smile.
Follow-Up Care for Your TMJ
Along with procedures to address the underlying cause of your temporomandibular joint disorder, our dentists may suggest palliative means to ease pain and other symptoms while at home. These may include a soft food diet, avoiding biting your nails or chewing gum, applying heat and cold compresses to your jaw, and relaxation techniques. Our dentists can also show you helpful ways to stretch and exercise jaw and neck muscles, or prescribe medication to relieve jaw pain and inflammation. Following your TMJ treatment, we may recommend follow-up visits so that our dentists can assess your condition and progress. During your routine dental cleaning and check-up visits at Advanced Dentistry, we will continue to monitor your jaw joint health and comfort.
Does Insurance Cover TMJ Care?
Dental insurance coverage for diagnosing TMJ pain and TMD therapies may vary among policies. Prior to your treatment, our billing coordinator will contact your carrier to gain an estimate of any covered or uncovered portion. To make all treatments affordable, Advanced Dentistry offers a variety of flexible payment methods and can assist you in applying for special CareCredit financing.
Find Relief From TMJ Pain
Jaw pain and discomfort makes it tough to eat, speak, and enjoy your everyday life. Since there is a range of potential causes, symptoms, and remedies for TMD, we welcome you to meet with our dentists at Advanced Dentistry of Centre County to learn about your options for care. Using a personalized approach and expert technique, they will perform a detailed examination of your TMJ and symptoms and talk with you about the options for treating TMD. Contact our friendly State College, PA dental practice today to learn more and to make your appointment.