What Are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD), and How Can an Orthodontist Help?
If you have ever suffered from jaw pain, you know it can cause horrible pain and tenderness, especially while talking or eating. Some jaw pain is the result of acute injuries and can go away on its own, but longer-lasting jaw pain may be caused by a jaw condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Fortunately, your orthodontist Queen Creek AZ can assess your teeth and jaw to see if you have TMD, and they can make a personalized plan to correct the issue.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint is where the bottom part of your jaw meets the top, typically below your temple, and it looks like a hinge. The bones are surrounded by muscles, nerves, and tendons, and all serve important purposes that help you chew food, talk, and carry out everyday tasks. When working properly, your temporomandibular joint allows your mouth to open fully without restriction, pain, or tenderness. Injuries or tooth alignment issues that cause these issues, however, may be indicative of a temporomandibular joint problem called TMD.
What is TMD?
TMD is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint that often results in pain and tenderness of the jaw, especially while moving it. You may also experience headaches and earaches, or your jaw may make popping sounds when you open and close it. In some cases, TMD can result in the jaw locking completely, leaving you unable to open your mouth a few millimeters.
How Can an Orthodontist Help TMD?
Several interventions exist to correct and alleviate TMD, or at least the pain associated with it. Some patients may find relief from pain with over-the-counter painkillers or ice, but these won’t address the root cause of the problem. An orthodontist will evaluate the severity of TMD and may recommend a mouthguard at night to reduce grinding and intense mouth pressure. An orthodontist may also use braces to realign teeth if the TMD is caused by misaligned teeth.
If a case of TMD becomes particularly severe, your orthodontist may resort to surgery, though this is typically a last resort when other interventions did not produce the desired result.
Should You See an Orthodontist for Jaw Pain?
If you are experiencing persistent pain in your jaw, it is always a good idea to schedule an appointment to see your orthodontist. They can determine whether you have TMD, and they can build a comprehensive solution to resolve jaw pain or movement issues at their root.
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