November 27, 2019
This month is dedicated to TMD awareness. If you wake up with throbbing headaches and jaw tension and always brush it off, you could have a serious disorder. Your condition can make it painful and difficult to complete everyday tasks like chewing and speaking, impacting your overall quality of life. These jaw alignment issues impact an estimated 10 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can get the relief you need and improve your wellbeing by learning what symptoms to spot at home and how to seek treatment. Read on to find out everything you need to know for TMD Awareness Month.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint and muscle connect your jaw to your skull, which allows you to easily and smoothly move it without scraping or grinding against other bones. TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, occurs when that group of joints and muscles are dysfunctional and cause you pain when you move them. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, TMD is more common in women than men. Because general and temporary discomfort in these muscles and bones are fairly common, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of TMD so you know when you need to visit your TMD/TMJ specialist in Summerlin.
What are the Signs of TMD?
TMD can cause a variety of symptoms and signs, and knowing how to spot them early can save you from experiencing severe discomfort down the road. Pain while chewing or speaking is one of the most common signs of TMD because these actions require sharp movements of your mouth and jaw, which can trigger discomfort if they’re misaligned or dysfunctional. Some other symptoms to look out for include:
- Spreading pain in the face, jaw, and neck.
- Jaw stiffness.
- Limited movement or lockjaw.
- Popping, grating, and clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth.
- Jaw alignment issues that change the way your teeth fit together.
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist in Summerlin immediately to receive a checkup and diagnosis. If they determine you have TMD, they can develop a customized treatment plan to ease your pain.
How Can TMD Be Treated?
Diagnosing TMJ disorders is difficult and confusing, which is why it’s important to go to a trained professional. Your dentist will examine your head, neck, face, and jaw, and may even take images of your facial structure. Once you learn that you have TMD, they’ll develop a customized treatment plan for you, including some self-care tips to follow at home, like applying a cold/hot pack to your joint in 15-minute intervals and eating softer foods.
Your TMJ/TMD dentist may also suggest professional appliance therapy, which involves them customizing an oral appliance that’s similar to a nightguard, to wear while you sleep. There are several different types of appliances, but most of them work to bring your misaligned jaw into its proper alignment and cushion your teeth against grinding and clenching. This way, the force and tension are reduced, preventing you from waking up with pain.
Acting to get the issue treated sooner can help you avoid developing oral health problems and dental damage caused by grinding and clenching. Not to mention, it can improve your overall wellbeing by taking the pain out of doing basic tasks like chewing and speaking.
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West has advanced experience and training in positioning the jaw and crafting customized oral appliances for both sleep apnea and TMD. She is an active member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and works with leading medical experts all over Nevada to diagnose and treat all types of situations. With individualized and customized treatment plans, she’s able to help ease her patients’ pain and improve their quality of life. For questions or to schedule an appointment for TMJ therapy, visit iSleepSolutions & TMJ Pain Therapy’s website or call 702-602-2000.
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