At Coastal Carolina Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful smile. Our orthodontists and highly trained team of orthodontic specialists work hard to approach treatments on an individual basis, designing comprehensive, personalized plans that perfectly suit each patient's unique needs and lifestyle. But while you may think orthodontic treatment is purely about getting a great smile, there are actually many other benefits besides that, including relief from chronic jaw pain, or TMD.
Causes & Symptoms of TMD
Temporomandibular Dysfunction, also called TMD or TMJ, is one of the most common orthodontic problems, with some 40 million Americans suffering from it at some point in their lives. TMD is a disorder affecting the temporomandibular joint (the jaw joint), and it can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from a stiff jaw to debilitating jaw pain and headaches.
The jaw joint is the most complicated joint in the body, connecting the mandible (lower jaw) to the skull. It is capable of movement across 4 axes of motion and rotation. Unfortunately, that complexity can come with painful side effects. TMD is most commonly caused by misaligned teeth, which force the jaws to sit improperly and create pressure and tension points in the jaws and mouth. These points can clamp down on nerves running through the face, causing a variety of symptoms including:
- Recurring headaches and pain in the face
- Hearing loss or tinnitus
- Stiff neck or jaw
- Back, neck, or shoulder aches
- Vision problems
- Eye pain
- Clicks and pops when opening or closing the jaw
- Pain in the jaws when opening or closing
- Grinding teeth
- Numb fingers and hands
Diagnosis & Treatment of TMD
These are some of the most common symptoms of TMD, but damage could be more extensive. In order to detect a TMD problem or prevent a TMD problem from escalating, you’ll need to have a full evaluation at our Jacksonville, Morehead City, or Havelock office. During the evaluation, one of our orthodontists will examine the tissues and bones around the "hinge" of your jaw, the fit of the top and bottom teeth, and any other issues concerning the mouth and face.
If you do have a mild case of TMD, over-the-counter painkillers, self massage, cold compresses, and night guards can help provide relief from pain and other symptoms. In more severe cases we may suggest a more intensive orthodontic treatment like orthognathic (jaw) surgery. This is rare, though, and we can treat most cases without any jaw surgery procedures.
Schedule Your Evaluation Today
If you'd like to learn more about TMD/TMJ or you feel you may be suffering from some of these symptoms, we'd be happy to speak with you. Please feel free to request an appointment online at our Jacksonville, Morehead City, or Havelock office. We look forward to working with you soon!