Temporomandibular joint disorder, which is also known as TMJ, TMD and TMJD, is a broad description used to describe chronic and acute inflammation within the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the lower jawbone, or mandible, to the skull. The top of the lower jawbone is referred to as the condyle, and it fits inside the opening located on the temporal bone, which is also known as the glenoid fossa, located on the skull. The temporomandibular joint resembles a socket and ball with the glenoid fossa mimicking the socket and the round condyle mimicking the ball.
In a healthy temporomandibular joint, there is a cushion between the two bones in the form of a small piece of cartilage, which is called the articular disc. In addition, there is fine balance between the nervous system, dental occlusion, ligaments, associated jaw muscles and the tempormandibular joint. Therefore, even a small disturbance of balance in the area can cause inflammation, leading to TMJD. Consequently, millions of children and adults alike suffer from the disorder, which typically begins mild and gradually worsens over time if left untreated.
Symptoms of TMJD:
There are many symptoms of TMD or TMJD in addition to the most commonly noted signs those being a clicking or popping in the jaw. Other symptoms are as follows:
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Fainting or dizziness.
- Tingling in the hands and fingers.
- Lower back pain.
- Shoulder pain.
- Ear pain.
- Pain behind the eyes.
- Stuffiness in the ears.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Neck aches.
Treatment options for TMJD:
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for TMJD. However, there are many treatment options that can reduce symptoms dramatically. Since the progression of TMJD is so rapid, it is wise to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schau at the onset of symptoms. Below is a list of common treatment options:
- Implementing relaxation techniques to reduce tension in the jaw.
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, over-the-counter pain-relievers or muscle relaxers.
- Application of moist heat to ease muscle spasms.
- Braces by Dr. Schau.
- Occlusal equilibration by Dr. Schau.
- Wearing custom appliances such as a bite splint or bite plate to reduce the effects of grinding or clenching of the teeth.
Dr. Schau works diligently to help her patients overcome the devastating effects of TMJD as is her passion. She has educated herself on treatment options through attending seminars hosted by North America’s top TMJD experts. In addition, Dr. Schau is an active member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain. Due to her passion for helping patients and her commitment to discovering new treatment options, Dr. Schau is one of the leading experts in the treatment of TMJD.
“Totally professional, efficient and friendly office…I never mind going to the dentist!” – Heidi R., Saginaw, MI