Has this ever happened to you? You pop a piece of gum, hear a clicking noise, and suddenly there’s a white hot pain in your jaw. Or maybe you open your mouth wide to bite into a hamburger, and find that, when you pull away, you can no longer close your mouth. If you’ve experienced this or other symptoms concentrated in the jaw or head, it’s possible you’re suffering from TMD.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), sometimes referred to as TMJ, is a term used to categorize several dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint functions as a hinge between the mouth and the skull, meaning that any malfunctions with this joint can affect several different areas of the body, can be incredibly painful, and can significantly lower quality of life.
Regardless of whether you’re a long time suffer of TMD or have just recently begun developing symptoms, a neuromuscular dentist can help.
What Is a Neuromuscular Dentist?
If you’ve been under the impression that a dentist only treats teeth, you’re not alone. The truth is that other facets of dentistry, including neuromuscular dentistry, look at teeth as part of a large, complex system of bones, muscles, joints and nerves. With this lens, a neuromuscular dentist can help to identify problems such as jaw function, which can contribute to tooth damage and overall health.
Do I Need a Neuromuscular Dentist?
If you don’t have the usual symptoms of TMD, you still might be suffering from the disorder. TMD is notoriously difficult to diagnose because symptoms often vary in severity and how they manifest. For example, tinnitus, ringing in the ear, and other ear symptoms may affect as much as 80% or TMD sufferers. Because the temporomandibular joint is connected to other surrounding structures in the skull such as the ear canals, if the joint malfunctions it can affect the ear in many ways.
Other symptoms can include:
- Headaches or Migraines
- Neck Pain
- Vertigo and Dizziness
In addition, there is evidence linking TMD to other chronic pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia.
How Do Neuromuscular Dentist Treat TMD?
There are many approaches to treating TMD, and they typically begin by identifying the state of your bite. By measuring the tension in your jaw muscles, listening to the sounds of your jaw to identify potentially damage, a neuromuscular dentist can begin to offer treatment such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a kind of electric massage. Combined with oral appliances that can help to reposition your jaw, these treatments can help with pain, and begin the healing process.
If you would like to learn more about how neuromuscular dentistry can help you, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Clements in Valdosta, GA.