The 411 on TMD / TMJ
Confused yet? Don’t worry, your Lafayette dentist is here to spell it out for you, so you better listen up, especially if you have experienced any of the following symptoms:
- Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)
- Jaw pain, popping, or clicking
- Frequent headaches
- Earache or ringing
- Trouble or pain opening/closing the mouth
- Jaw pain that extends into the neck, face, or head
What is TMD / TMJ?
If you’re not keen on acronyms, before you get too tongue tied, know that these two terms are often used interchangeably. TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint” or the jaw joint. TMD stands for “temporomandibular disorder” or any condition afflicting the jaw joint, or TMJ.
What causes TMD?
TMD can arise from a number of things, including:
- Tooth alignment
- Bite alignment
- Excess muscle tension
- Clenching/grinding or bruxism
Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to TMD. Stress causes those who carry tension in their mouths and jaws to clench and grind excessively. Studies have found a significant difference in the frequency of TMD sufferers between men and women – women account for a whopping 90% of all TMD cases.
Why does TMD affect women more than men?
The 90% of women that make up all TMJ sufferers are women in their childbearing years. This brings us back to stress. Other factors include:
- Medical conditions: Arthritis and fibromyalgia have been linked to TMJ, two conditions that are more common in women
- Hormones: Research has found estrogen receptors in the TMJs of female baboons, while none were found in the males. Women who undergo hormone replacement therapy or take oral contraceptives are more likely to suffer from jaw pain.
- Joint Structure: There are slight differences in the structure of men’s TMJ and women’s. Women are more likely to have dislocated disks, which can cause TMD.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: Menstruation has been linked to vitamin deficiencies in women, and magnesium deficiency has been linked to TMD.
- Seeking Treatment: Women are more likely than men to seek treatment for health-related issues.
How does a dentist treat TMD?
If you think you might be suffering from TMD, you’ve come to the right place. Your Lafayette dentist can provide you with the relief you deserve. While the treatment method depends on each individual patient’s case, treatment options include replacing missing teeth, moving or shifting teeth, adjusting the bite, and filling gaps between teeth. If you have problems with clenching and grinding, we can provide you with a custom mouth guard to reduce the impact. In extreme cases, if left untreated, surgery may be the only way to repair the badly damaged joint.
When most Lafayette residents think of Botox, usually dentistry and facial pain therapy is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, many dentists have discovered that it can be beneficial in treating patients with TMD. Botox is a muscle relaxer, that when given in generally half the dosage used for facial cosmetic wrinkle treatment, has been proven to greatly reduce the intensity of jaw and facial muscle contractions that cause pain for patients suffering from bruxism (teeth grinding) and TMD.
If you think you or a loved one might be suffering from TMD, we would love to talk to you about your options. Find relief today by calling your Lafayette dentists, Dr. Muse and Dr. Moss, at (337) 446-2397, or request a consultation online.