What Is TMJ And What Are Treatment Options?
Life can get stressful from time to time, and everyone experiences periods of anxiety where the mind continues to race and worry even after the body has fallen asleep. The occasional bout of nighttime tooth grinding can usually be felt the next day by way of pain and tension in the jaw. However, when jaw stiffness and pain becomes a regular occurrence, accompanied by other symptoms like "clicking" and trouble opening or closing the mouth (locking), it can be a sign of a condition known as Temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
Is TMD the same thing as TMJ?
Many people use the two interchangeably, but TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, which is the set of hinge-like joints that attach the jaw to the skull, and allow us to open and close our mouths for all of the essential functions in life like eating and talking. TMD (Temporomandibular disorders) is the joint disorder that is commonly misidentified as TMJ.
TMD Treatment in Raleigh
Joints are supported by connective tissue (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) that are also subject to strain and wear and tear over time. Persistent pain and tenderness in the jaw, or near the temples or ears could be a sign of a problem with the temporomandibular joint. Diagnosing and treating TMD is usually not as straightforward as a common dental problem like a cavity or missing tooth. Dr. Ashley Lloyd, a Raleigh, NC-based dentist, begins by looking for the source of the pain, which commonly results from a problem with the joint or surrounding muscle, such as:
- muscle or tendon strain
- damage or deterioration in the joint
- underlying health condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body, like fibromyalgia or arthritis
In most cases, TMD symptoms resolve on their own with conservative treatment like pain management, heating or ice application, and behavior modification to help ease additional pressure and tension on the jaw until the joint heals. If conservative treatment is insufficient or fails to relieve the symptoms, a dentist may suggest treatments like orthodontics to fix alignment issues or medications like a steroid injection to alleviate inflammation in the joint.
Are you suffering from jaw pain or other symptoms of TMD? For more information on the condition and to discuss your treatment options, contact the office of Dr. Ashley Lloyd by calling 919-828-1001 to schedule an appointment today.