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Cracking The Code on TMJ

Cracking The Code on TMJ
by Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S.

Read Cracking The Code on TMJ by Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S. to learn more about Grove Smiles® Dentistry and our Dentistry office in Coconut Grove, FL.

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Take a moment and answer these questions.

1. Does your jaw ache when you chew or when you open your mouth wide to yawn?

2. Do you hear clicking or popping sounds loud enough to worry or bother you?

3. Does your jaw ever lock up as you open it?

4. Do you experience soreness or stiffness in your jaw after you awaken in the morning or recurring pain in the muscles of the cheeks, neck, or temples?

If your answer is “YES” to a few of these questions, you may have a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMD.

TMD Or TMJ – Which Is Correct?

TMD is the name for a group of conditions that are characterized by pain and dysfunction in the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), where the jaw bone (mandible) meets the temporal bone (a part of the skull.) In fact, the condition is often incorrectly called “TMJ,” — but TMJ refers to the joint itself.  Everyone has two of them, one left and one right, but not everyone has TMD.

Symptoms of TMD

Pain or discomfort in the jaw muscles or joints is usually temporary for most people. The pain and irritation often occur in cycles and resolve once you stop moving the area.  Some people with TMD pain, however, can develop chronic symptoms.

Chronic Symptoms of TMD May Include:

* Increasing pain or soreness in the front of your ear, in your jaw muscle, cheek, teeth, or your temples.

* Limited movement or challenge to open your mouth wide.

* Locking of the jaw.

* Painful clicking or grating when opening or closing the mouth.

* A substantial difference in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.

* Frequent headaches, earaches, dizziness, hearing problems, and difficulty swallowing.

Suppose you suffer from one or more of these symptoms. In that case, it is highly recommended that a dental professional, such as your trusted dentist, help you establish whether your pain is due to TMD and then provide the proper recommendations and treatment if needed.

Why Does TMD Occur?

Researchers agree that TMD falls into these categories:

A Dislocated Jaw or Displaced Disc. This displacement can be initiated from a “blow” to the jaw during a sporting activity to repetitive use, such as excessive chewing of gum or utilizing one side of the mouth to chew your food.

Degenerative Joint Disease – Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis in the jaw joint.

Myofascial Pain – a discomfort or an ache in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders. Most often as a result of both physical and emotional stress.

Another Not Often Associated Factor – Emotional Stress

While we often associate physical stressors as the cause of TMD, emotional stress, although not the root cause of TMD, can be a factor or trigger for the body’s reactions to lock down and tighten. When people are under psychological stress, they may clench their teeth. Clenching teeth with upper and lower jaws that have never fit well together could be a significant factor.

Treating and Diagnosing TMD

Diagnosing or ruling out TMD is not difficult. For example, your dentist may ask you to open and close your mouth repeatedly while they monitor the dimensions of the jaw joint and the balance of the muscles. They will also be looking for signs of inflammation and any abnormalities. If you have no problems while doing these things, then the problem is not likely to be TMD.   But often, special imaging or an x-ray may be needed to help confirm the diagnosis.

In most cases, your dentist’s first target is to relieve symptoms, in particular, pain. However, if your dentist feels that you need special appliances, for instance, night guards against teeth grinding, they will make those specific recommendations.

Excellent Dental Team In Coconut Grove, FL Ready To Help!

Want to Learn More? Call Us Today So We Can Help You Create Your Best Smile Yet!

At Grove Smiles Dentistry in Coconut Grove, FL, we love creating generations of healthy teeth and happy smiles for the wonderful families of our community.

For Your Health,

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S.

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Grove Smiles® Dentistry

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S., P.A.
2685 Bird Avenue
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Phone: 305-858-0505
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