Temporomandibular Disorders

The Temporomandibular Joint, more commonly known as the ‘jaw joint’ is where the lower jaw connects to the base of the skull. The position of this joint is in front of the ears, it can be felt by opening and closing the jaw while gently pressing this position.

We can help with Jaw Joint Pain

The number of patients experiencing TMD are increasing. Symptoms may include one or more of the following: sore jaws, toothaches, sinus problems, neck and back pain, ear aches / ringing ears, headaches / migraines, the teeth of both jaws do not feel like they are biting properly, pain when chewing or yawning, limited opening of the jaws, pain on opening or closing of the jaw, facial tension, clicking jaw (disc rubs on the bone), locked jaw, back ache.

Diagnosis of TMD can be difficult due to its numerous causes and symptoms. Your FirstBite dentist will conduct a thorough dental examination prior to treatment commencing. Your dentist will normally co-ordinate with other healthcare professionals to prepare a treatment plan so that all aspects of the problem, being physical and/or emotional are dealt with.

Patients will be referred to a general medical practitioner to eradicate it being a medical problem if it does not appear to be a dental problem.

If symptoms are acute eg. very painful, can’t open jaws, these will be dealt with immediately using medication, occlusal splint (see below), and/or physiotherapy. After dealing with the acute symptoms, the patient is then treated as a chronic (long term non- severe) sufferer.

The following steps are usually followed, dealing with the simplest issues first:

  1. Fillings. All dental infections must be dealt with.
  2. Occlusal splint therapy. An occlusal splint is a hard piece of plastic that is made from a mould of your teeth. The purpose of the splint is to keep your teeth apart. In this position, the facial muscles are most relaxed and less tension can be generated than when the teeth are together.
  3. Soft diet. Patients are advised of the problems associated with chewing gum, hard diets (eg. nuts, bones) and it is recommended that hard foods be temporarily removed from the diet.
  4. Heat packs applied to the area can sometimes give relief to symptoms.
  5. Physiotherapy. Your FirstBite dentist can give you exercises to help relax your jaw muscles.
  6. Myotherapy. Some medical specialists believe that muscular tension in other areas of your body (eg. back) can be the cause of your problem, so a complete body assessment is highly recommended.
  7. Stress Management. There are many possibilities, in our modern medical world to help relieve stress, such as; yoga, naturopathic remedies, counselling etc. Sometimes the patient must try several options until they find one that suits them.
  8. Surgery. This is normally the last option and is only recommended once all other possibilities have been explored.

A complete treatment plan is the only way to deal with TMD, if you, or someone you know is suffering from jaw pain get them to call us at FirstBite Dental today so we access the situation.