TMJ Dysfunction and
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a term given to several problems associated with jaw movement and pain in and around the jaw joints. TMD is sometimes mistakenly called TMJ, which simply refers to the joints. The left and right jaw joints connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull and allow the jaw to articulate in three dimensions. Pain associated with TMD can be experienced in the joints, in the muscles that control the jaw’s movement, and in the neck and back too.
Treating TMD is not always easy; sometimes involving a diagnostic process that can feel like a game of hit or miss. Occasionally a referral to a TMJ specialist or surgeon is required. An exam and consultation with Dr. Caouette is a good starting point.
Minor TMJ and muscle symptoms are often associated with a poor bite or a grinding habit. These situations can usually be treated with Occlusal Splints, Night Guards, Neuromodulator injections, bite adjustments or Orthodontics.
Clenching & Grinding
Grinding, also known as Bruxism, is a habit that often occurs during sleep. Many patients experience this without having TMD symptoms. Instead, morning headaches, muscle soreness, and tooth sensitivity sometimes occur. At South Central Dentistry, a routine dental exam can uncover the signs of grinding. Tooth wear and Non-Carious Cervical Lesions (NCCL) are good indicators. In new research, bruxism has also been shown to occur with patients having Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Treatment for Bruxism is often a custom-made Night Guard, and sometimes Neuromodulator injections to relax overworked grinding muscles. If an underlying airway problem is suspected, such as OSA, further diagnostic tests may be required. These can be discussed with Dr. Caouette.