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Common TMJ & TMD Questions

Do you live in Allen or Fairview, Texas and suffer from TMJ Disorder?

You may have heard many people speak of TMJ disorders, but do you know what all this means? How do you know if you have a TMJ disease?

If you’re suffering from jaw pain related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), we are here help you work through your symptoms and find relief without the traditional side effects associated with prescription medication.

The following answers some common TMJ disorder questions.

What is a TMJ disorder?

TMJ, also known as your temporomandibular joint, is a hinge which connects your jaw bone to your skull’s temporal bones, which are opposite the ear. It allows you to move your jaw back and forth, to talk and to chew and to bone.  Temporomandibular disorders, known more commonly as TMD, involve problems with your jaw joint or surrounding muscles and tendons, which can cause serve pain and discomfort, even migraines.   It’s generally characterized by aching, throbbing, or pain around your lower face and joints.  The pain may last temporarily or last many years depending on the severity of the case.  Most women than men have it, and is common among people between the ages of 20 and 50. 

What's the difference between TMD and TMJ?

We’ve all heard of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). What do these terms mean? Lots of people confuse TMJ and TMD and think they mean the same thing, but that’s a common misconception as they’re completely different.

When we talk about TMJ, we’re referring to the small, delicate joint that connects your jaw to your skull.  When we refer to TMD, we’re referring to the muscles in the jaw joint where they are so overused, they start to squeeze down too hard. Some symptoms of this disorder include face pain, headaches, toothaches, and even ear aches.  In essence, TMJ refers to the joint, while TMD refers to various disorders and issues that causes pain and affects the functionality of the TMJ.

Ask Yourself These Questions to Find Out if You Have a TMJ Disorder

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, face, neck, or shoulders, ask these questions to find out if you have TMJ disorder.

  • Is there pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck, and shoulders?
  • When I chew, speak, or open my mouth broadly, is there pain around the ear?
  • Do I have problems with opening my jaw where it gets “stuck” or “lock” in the open or closed mouth position?
  • Does your face feel tired throughout the day?
  • Is your jaw sore, or do you have a sudden uncomfortable bite—as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly?
  • Is there swelling on the side of your face?
  • Are you frequently bothered by headaches, neck pain or earaches? Does your hearing fluctuate? Do you experience dizziness or ringing in your ears at times?
  • Do you experience your jaw and/or tongue freezing up and not moving, or “freezing” in place? 
  • Is there an audible noise during mouth movement?

Are Popping Jaws Part of TMD?

While some people experience TMJ-related clicking or popping, others do not. At your consultation, we’ll determine whether you have TMD or another disorder causing these noises and recommend TMD treatment if necessary. To determine if you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD), we will need to examine your jaw joints and exam the surrounding area. If you open or close your mouth such as when chewing or speaking, and you experience a popping or clicking in the jaw joints, it is recommended to see a dentist who can help relieve your pain.

Who is at risk for developing TMD?

You may be at particular risk of developing a TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following:

  • Arthritis or other joint diseases
  • Bruxism or grinding teeth at night
  • Misaligned or “bad” dental bite
  • Head or jaw injury

Will My TMJ Therapy Be Covered by Insurance?

It varies between dental insurance plans but in most cases your dental insurance will not cover the cost of TMJ treatment in Fairview, Texas so you will have to pay out-of-pocket unless you can get pre-approval from your insurer.  

Your care is our first priority. We’ll cover all of your concerns and go over each of the medical procedures you want to undergo. If you need help financing your treatment, we partnered with CareCredit or LendingPoint to give you the financial support you need at 0% interest. Overall, we’ll create a plan that fits within your expectations for comfort and price, so that you can get the TMJ treatment you need.

How do you diagnose and treat TMJ disorder

A dentist will perform a physical examination to determine if you suffer from TMJ. She will observe your jaw’s range of motion and feel your jaw as it opens and closes. She’ll observe how easily your jaw moves and how it feels as it moves.  By pressing gently on the surrounding areas and on your temporomandibular joint, your dentist will be able to identify areas of particular tenderness or pain.  Your doctor will also take a closer look with a CBCT scan which will provide a more detailed picture of the area in 3D, to pinpoint the source of the pain, and provide the relief you need.

After your examination, your TMJ treatment will vary depending on the doctor’s findings. Treatment options include, but are not limited to:

  • Warm compress to the area
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Physical therapy
  • Oral device like bite splint therapy
  • Facial exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Oral Surgery in severe cases
  • Night guard to prevent teeth clenching or grinding

Can I Treat My TMD at Home?

Besides receiving professional care for relief, there are simple steps you can take at home to get immediate comfort. Some lifestyle changes we recommend include:

  • Heat from a hot water bottle can reduce pain, while ice pack can decrease inflammation, 
  • Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatories to help with pain management.
  • Avoid chewing gum or foods that cause discomfort such as  hard foods such as corn on the cob or whole fruits that require you to stretch your jaw. 
  • To give your jaw some rest and make it easier on your mouth, we recommend eating softer foods such as scrambled eggs, applesauce, smoothies and other soft foods.
  • Giving your jaw a chance to rest gives your muscles a chance to recover and from being overworked.
  • Avoid making exaggerated movements with your jaw
  • Meditation or yoga to help minimize general stress level

Will I Need Surgery?

Your Fairview, TX DentistThere are many treatments available to relieve TMD pain, but surgery should only be considered if conservative treatments do not work.  Before discussing whether or not surgery is necessary, your local dentist in Fairview will recommend a conservative holistic approach such as an occlusal splint therapy before suggesting surgery.

Is TMD Life-Threatening if It’s Not Treated?

The good news is that Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) isn’t life-threating, however the various symptoms such as headaches, ringing in the ears, neck and shoulder pain tend to become worse over time if ignored.  If left untreated, it could severely affect your quality of life, your teeth, your overall mood, as well as your ability to sleep.  Fortunately, if you treat it early on, your symptoms will subside in no time! 

Have more TMD OR TMJ questions?

If you have questions at all, or would just like to schedule an appointment with a member of our staff, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (972) 468-1440 or contact our office by leaving us a message. We know how frustrating TMJ symptoms can be and that your TMJ disorder is totally unique to you. We will provide expert diagnosis and a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and get your life back on track.  Our practice is located in Fairview, Texas, and our patients visit us from across the surrounding areas, including Allen, Plano, McKinney, and Lucas.