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TMJD dentistry

TMJD or TMD Dentistry

Relief for head, neck and jaw pain

We can diagnose, treat, and manage conditions that cause head, neck, and jaw discomfort

What is TMJD or TMD dentistry?

TMJD or TMD dentistry deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and management of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) or temporomandibular disorders (TMD). This pertains to conditions that specifically impact the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the related structures involved in the movement and function of the jaw.

The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, connects the jawbone to the skull. This joint enables important functions such as chewing, speaking, and yawning. So, when there are issues with the TMJ, it can cause significant discomfort and impact your quality of life.

Impact of head, neck, and jaw pain on quality of life

Chronic pain of the head, neck, or jaw (orofacial) can have a serious impact on your overall well-being and daily functioning. Temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain can cause discomfort and limitations that can affect everyday activities like eating, speaking, and even basic facial expressions.

Persistent pain can lead to problems such as difficulty focusing, disrupted sleep, and emotional distress such as anxiety and depression. Generally, when people have consistent discomfort, it slowly wears them down and starts to influence the decisions they make and how they live their lives.

neck pain

Identifying underlying causes for long-term management

Just addressing the symptoms may offer temporary relief, but effectively managing temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain in the long term requires identification and treatment of the root causes. Head, neck, and jaw pain can stem from a variety of causes, including jaw misalignment, muscle tension, teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism), stress, trauma, or structural issues with the temporomandibular joint. Dr Cipriani’s philosophy emphasises a tailored approach to addressing the underlying cause of your pain and discomfort. . In this way, you are much more likely to experience long term relief and maximum medical improvement. To effectively manage temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain, a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition is crucial. This includes considering the physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors that play into it. Addressing underlying causes will assist you to experience improved pain management, functional rehabilitation, and an enhanced quality of life.

Common symptoms of TMD

headache

Headaches

Temporomandibular disorders can cause tension headaches and migraines. When there is constant tension and imbalance in the muscles of the jaw and surrounding areas, it can cause recurring headaches that can vary in intensity from mild to severe. Tension headaches usually feel like constant, mild pain, whereas migraines cause a pulsing pain and can make you sensitive to light and sound. Migraines can also cause nausea and visual problems.

Neck and shoulder pain

TMJ disorder can cause pain that is felt in other areas of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, even though the source of the pain is the jaw joint. The muscles in the jaw, neck, and shoulders are connected to each other. If there is any tension or imbalance in the jaw, it can cause muscle strain and discomfort in these areas. Some patients may feel tightness, soreness, or pain that starts from their jaw and extends down to their neck and shoulders.

Causes of TMD and orofacial pain

TMD and orofacial pain can arise from various factors. A common finding is bruxism, which is essentially grinding or clenching of your teeth and jaws. Another way to consider bruxism is the use of your teeth and jaw joints in a manner which is not normal or intended for your body.. Bruxism will increase the risk of fatigue in your jaw system, pushing your body beyond it’s limits of compensation. This can be when you experience various degrees of pain and discomfort.

Ear pain and ringing

TMD may lead to ear-related symptoms. Patients may experience ear pain, which can be sharp or dull and may be mistaken for an ear infection. Additionally, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears can be associated with TMD. These symptoms happen because the TMJ and ears are in close proximity to one another and share nerve pathways.

Jaw pain and discomfort

Jaw pain and discomfort are common symptoms of TMJD or TMD. Patients may feel pain or tenderness in the jaw joint (TMJ). Jaw movements like speaking or chewing can make this discomfort worse. You may experience stiffness or a sensation of the jaw being locked, which can make it challenging to open or close the mouth smoothly. It is common to experience clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving the jaw.

The link between TMJD or TMD, sleep disorders, and orofacial pain

Temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain are frequently experienced together with sleep disorders, creating a complex interplay of symptoms that exacerbate one another. Understanding the relationship between these conditions is essential for providing comprehensive treatment and effective management.

Sleep disorders that are often linked to TMJD/TMD include:

Sleep Apnoea: Sleep apnoea is a health disorder characterised by breathing interruptions during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs when the airway is partially or completely blocked, while central sleep apnoea (CSA) is caused by the brain failing to signal the muscles to breathe. TMD can make sleep apnoea worse or even cause it. This is because it affects the airway, which affects your brain, which in turn controls the nerves and muscles of our head and neck.

Bruxism (teeth grinding and/or clenching): Bruxism is a condition where a person grinds, clenches, or gnashes their teeth repeatedly, usually during sleep.. Teeth grinding and TMD can create a harmful cycle. Grinding your teeth can make your jaw pain and dysfunction worse, while muscle tension related to TMD can cause or intensify teeth grinding.

The connection between TMD, sleep disorders, and orofacial pain is reciprocal and can result in a pattern of symptoms:

Sleep disorders exacerbating TMD and orofacial pain: Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea or bruxism can worsen symptoms of TMD. Sleep apnoea can cause a blockage in the airway, which can lead to increased muscle tension and reduced blood flow to the TMJ. This can make pain and dysfunction worse. Additionally, bruxism can put a lot of pressure on the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, further aggravating the pain and inflammation of TMD.

To effectively manage temporomandibular disorders, sleep disorders, and orofacial pain, a combination of treatments may be needed. Sleep disorders can be treated with oral appliances such as mandibular advancement devices. Treatments that are designed to alleviate symptoms of TMD, such as occlusal splints, physical therapy, stress reduction techniques, and pain management strategies, may also be recommended.

TMD contributing to sleep disorders: Discomfort and pain caused by TMD can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep, leading todisrupted sleep patterns. Muscle tension in your jaw, joint inflammation, or an uncomfortable bite can all negatively impact the quality of your sleep. This can lead to sleep disorders like insomnia or fragmented sleep.

sleep disorder

Treatment options for TMJD or TMD and orofacial pain

Conservative & Holistic approach

Self-care techniques: If you are experiencing symptoms of TMD and orofacial pain, there are some self-care techniques that you can try to alleviate your discomfort. These include applying (generally)heat packs to the affected area, practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation, and managing any lifestyle stressors.

Physical therapy and jaw exercises: Collaborating with a physical therapist who specialises in orofacial pain can offer specific exercises and manual therapies that can enhance jaw mobility, strengthen muscles, and reduce pain.

Medications for pain management: Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), can provide temporary pain relief. Muscle relaxants may also be helpful in easing TMD-related muscle strain.

Oral appliances and splints

Oral appliances like occlusal splints or night guards may be recommended to stabilise the jaw, prevent teeth damage, and reduce stress on the TMJ. These custom-made devices are used to improve jaw alignment and decrease discomfort.

Therapeutic injectables (Dysport)

Qualified healthcare professionals can administer injections, such as Dysport, to the jaw muscles affected by TMD. Therapeutic Injectables can provide extended relief of pain in a safe and reliable manner, particularly for those who experience destructuve grinding, clenching, and suffer from head, neck and jaw pain.

Bite correction dentistry involves consideration of how efficient our chewing system is. Often, this system has been already damaged or worn down by the effects of bruxism, systemic health factors and, even, less than ideal past dental treatment. Dr. Cipriani may advise his ComfortBite sequence, to determine what sort of bite correction dentistry can stabilise your chewing system and minimise the need for jaw joint compensation, and resultant pain.

TMJD treatment

Do you experience pain in your head, neck, or jaw?

If you experience persistent pain or discomfort in your head, neck, or jaw, it is important to seek medical attention.

Orofacial pain, Temporomandibular Disorders, and Sleep Disorders all have the potential to co-exist and, if left untreated, can exacerbate each other leading to a cycle of symptoms. There are also a large number of other medical ailments that can initiate or potentiate Head, Neck and Jaw pain.

For these reasons, our approach to care is far more holistic in nature, considering a broad range of factors which allow us to offer treatment where possible, and also referral to relevant colleagues where appropriate.

Would you like to know how we can treat your TMD symptoms with practical and evidence based solutions? For consultation, feel free to call or text us on 0423 687 331.

TMJD treatment