Connecting the skull to the lower jaw, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex system comprised of bones, muscles, ligaments, and discs. They work collaboratively to open and close the jaw, move it side-to-side and perform all the functions we use our jaw for on a daily basis.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a degenerative disease associated with the TMJ. It impacts not only the jaw joint but also the surrounding facial muscles that are responsible for chewing and moving the jaw. Symptoms can be intermittent or severe and may include:
- Pain in the jaw, face, neck or shoulders
- Difficulty opening and/or closing the jaw that can result in nutritional deficiencies
- Locking of the jaw when it’s open or closed that makes chewing and speaking uncomfortable
- Clicking or popping of the joint
- Muscle stiffness or soreness
- Toothaches or earaches
- Dizziness or vertigo that impedes the ability to perform everyday tasks
- Hearing problems or tinnitus
While identifying the cause of TMD is not always possible, it’s likely the cause of:
- Constant pressure on the TMJ from grinding or clenching teeth
- Dislocation of the disc between the TMJ’s ball and socket
- Arthritis in the jaw joint
How is TMD treated?
TMD can be treated through non-invasive therapy to alleviate the symptoms and prevent any further degeneration of the joint and ski. A customized bite guard can be used to position the jaw correctly, training the joint to function properly and reducing pressure on the surrounding muscles. Some patients only need to wear their bite
guard during the night while others may opt to also wear it in the daytime. Dr. Larson is experienced in making custom guards that fit comfortably to ensure a good night’s sleep.
You can minimize the pain caused by TMD by applying cold or hot packs to reduce swelling and inflammation or by using over-the-counter/prescription pain killers. In addition, physical therapy can be utilized to reduce tension and stretch the jaw muscles.
CONTACT Dr. Larson
For more information about the treatment of TMD or to make an appointment, please call 208-664-9129 or email our practice today.