What is TMD and Why Does it Require a TMJ Specialist?

There are a lot of things people take for granted. Usually, this is because unless something is not working reliably or is directly causing pain, we tend to ignore it. Then, we go on with business as usual. But imagine a scenario, if you will. You live in the Reseda, California area, and are minding your own business. You feel something like a sharp tightness in your jaw. It is hard to move, speak, chew, or even breathe through your mouth. All you can do is clench your teeth through the pain and try to find someone who can help. But who is qualified for this sort of problem? Dentists tend to stick with teeth and gum issues, not issues with your jaw. Is there even a TMJ specialist in Reseda, Ca?

Thankfully, there are specialists in the dental field that can handle situations like this.  Jaw treatment usually falls under the jurisdiction of Periodontology, is a branch of dentistry that focuses specifically on the structures that are in connection with the tooth. This includes gums, jaws, and even the nerves and tendons that are attached to them.  But what is it exactly you are going through? And what do these TMJ specialists even do?

TMJ

TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joints.  They are the joints that specifically attach the jaw to the rest of the skull in a complex system of ligaments, muscles, discs, and bones. They all work together specifically for the purposes of jaw movements.  Movements that are crucial for the complex tasks of biting, chewing, and speaking. If one part of that network gets out of alignment, gone completely, or frozen in place, then the range of jaw motion is severely compromised.

TMD, Temporomandibular disorder, refers to a variety of problems that can arise in that area, or at least the area surrounding that joint. TMJ specialists need to have a strong understanding of the concept involving the anatomy of that area, and the plethora of causes behind the TMD in the first place.

Causes of TMD

There are a variety of reasons to why your TMJ would suddenly undergo sudden problems.  These problems include:

  • Consistent grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • External damage to the jaw
  • Movement or loss of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Excess stress that causes the jaw muscles to tighten

If you and your doctor are unaware of the cause of your TMD, it is important to talk to a TMJ specialist. Especially if there is a possibility of a more severe condition like a disc dissolving.

Symptoms Associated with TMD

According to the American Dental Association, 15% of Americans have suffered from some sort of TMJ disorder. Out of this percentage, a disproportionate number of them are women, which have lead TMJ specialists to start researching for possible hormonal causes for TMD.

Symptoms for TMD, according to Web MD, include but are not completely limited to:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide.
  • Problems when trying to open your mouth wide.
  • Jaws that get ‘stuck’ or ‘lock’ in the open or closed-mouth position.
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth. 
  • Sensitive teeth when there are no other dental problems to be found. 
  • Swelling on the side of the face.
  • Trouble chewing or an uncomfortable bite, as is the upper or lower teeth are not fitting together properly. 
  • There is also the population of toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears. 

TMJ Specialist Recommended Treatment

There is a range of treatments for TMD that apply to the specific cause of that disorder in the first place. 

For instance, if you received external damage to your jaw from physical violence, then cold or hot compresses will help with swelling, and Tylenol would help with pain management. 

If your jaw locks due to bad clenching habits or arthritis, you might need to follow a set of instructions for jaw exercises to help keep as much motion as possible in it.

If you have something like a misplaced disc or something on the same severity level of acute arthritis, then muscle relaxants, nerve stimulation or surgery to handle the area. 

When you think you need a TMJ Specialist in Reseda, California, feel free to call for a consultation and make an appointment with Dr. Richard Benveniste. Or visit his website at http://yourgums.com/.