What do TMJ and TMD mean?

March 10, 2020

What do TMJ and TMD mean?Medical terms can be confusing and overwhelming for some patients and even medical professionals from time to time. You may have heard your friends and family describing their diagnosis of TMJ, with symptoms of a clicking jaw or earaches, while others refer to it by a different name, TMD. Though these terms can sound the same, they refer to different conditions and we are here to offer you a better understanding of what TMJ and TMD are and how they may affect you.

TMJ and TMD

TMJ is an abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint which connects the mandibular, or your lower jaw, to the temporal bones of the skull. The TMJ is one of the more unique joints within your body as it allows you to move your jaw forward, backward, and side to side so that you can chew, talk, sing, yawn, and more. This joint can be found just in front of your ears on both sides of your head.

Any problem with the muscles, ligaments, discs, bones, or the joint itself are known as temporomandibular disorders or TMD and refers to the actual disorder, where the jaw joint is misaligned and causing problems such as pain, inflammation, and inability to move or operate the jaw. However, these problems or conditions are often incorrectly called by the joint name of TMJ instead.

What are the causes of TMD?

There can be a variety of causes for TMD and can arise from problems with the jaw, the muscles near the jaw, or the joint itself. If you notice some of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor who may refer you to a specialist to determine the cause of the oral problem. Some common causes for TMD include:

  • Injury to the joint, jaw, or muscles along your neck and face
  • Whiplash
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth which puts pressure on the joint
  • Movement or dislocation of the soft cushion, or disc, between the joint parts
  • Arthritis of the joint
  • Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial or jaw muscles
  • Tooth/jaw misalignment

Signs & Symptoms

Patients with TMD often experience severe pain and discomfort that can be temporary or chronic. Symptoms depend on the severity and cause of your condition and can show on one side or both. There are many signs and symptoms of TMD that can overlap with other conditions, which makes a diagnosis by your doctor all the more important.

Some of the most common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, or ear area
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Pain or pressure around the ears, face, and behind the eyes
  • A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Dislocation of jaw
  • Locked, stiff, or stuck jaw
  • Tenderness of jaw muscles
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Swelling of the face
  • Dental occlusion (the way the upper or lower jaw/teeth fit together)

Diagnosis

As stated above, many of the symptoms of TMD can overlap with other conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, sinus problems, or arthritis. To determine the cause, your orthodontist will conduct a physical examination and medical history review.

During your appointment, your jaw will be tested for pain or tenderness, and your doctor will examine how your jaw works when you open and close it while listening for clicks, pops, or sounds when you operate your jaw. Your bite and facial muscles will also be tested. It is not uncommon for x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to be required to determine the cause as these images can provide insight into the joint, surrounding tissues, and structures of your jaw. Depending on the diagnosis, you may need to be referred to another doctor or specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Treatment

Several different treatment options are available depending on your condition and the severity of your symptoms. In most mild cases TMD can be treated with self-care practices at home. Home methods include:

  • Taking over-the-counter medication to relieve muscle pain and swelling
  • Using moist heat or cold packs
  • Eating soft foods or cutting your food into smaller pieces so you chew less.
  • Avoiding hard, crunchy, or chewy foods
  • Limiting extreme jaw movements that force you to open your jaw wide
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Performing jaw stretching exercises

If your symptoms do not improve with these home remedies or if your case is more complex, your doctor may prescribe pain medication, anti-inflammatory medicine, muscle relaxants, or even Botox to reduce tension in muscles and nerves. Your doctor may also provide you with custom made bite guards or splints to prevent clenching or grinding of your teeth.

Other treatment options may include low-level laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, or low-level electrical stimulation to provide muscle relief. If misaligned teeth or bite is the cause, corrective dental treatment may be necessary. In extreme cases, surgery can help to remove fluid or debris from the jaw or replace/realign the joint.

Every case is unique, and a careful diagnosis and treatment plan will help to address your needs. If you have any questions about TMD or your temporomandibular joint, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today so that we can help.

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Braces and Brilliant Smiles

Braces and Brilliant SmilesWhen you mention braces, most people think of perfectly straight teeth, but there is so much more to orthodontia than just the aesthetics. For many, enduring metal brackets was a necessary part of growing up. Luckily, advances in dental technology have given us clear aligner therapy, and even tooth-colored ceramic brackets, as alternatives to shiny silver brackets. Looking beyond straight teeth and improved bite, orthodontic treatment from (insert practice name) can benefit both oral and overall health.

What are Some Of The Hidden Health Benefits of Orthodontia?

Crowded and overlapping teeth make it difficult to brush and floss effectively. When food particles stay behind on teeth, a sticky substance called plaque builds up. As plaque goes relatively untouched between the teeth and gums, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. This opens the door to periodontal disease and tooth decay, both of which can lead to teeth and bone loss. Traditional braces and clear aligners guide teeth into alignment, allowing you to reach the in-between spaces that eluded you in the past.

Gums protect the roots of teeth, but they have difficulty keeping bacteria at bay when teeth are misaligned. An increased presence of bacteria in the mouth can impact your heart health. If the bacteria reaches your bloodstream, it is deposited on the wall of the heart. Clear aligner trays are removed for brushing and flossing, so they make it easier to remove excess bacteria than traditional braces.

Malocclusion is the term that describes a misalignment between the upper and lower jaws. When teeth line up properly, the TM (temporomandibular) Joint usually functions smoothly. Malocclusion puts pressure on the TMJ, causing anything from a dull ache to severe pain. In the past, traditional braces were the only option to fix bite issues. Many clear aligners can now be made to fix more serious cases of malocclusion.

Is Clear Aligner Therapy Right For Everyone?

Now that clear aligners can be fitted with rubber bands; more people have the option of choosing clear aligner therapy over traditional braces. Crowding, overlapping, gaps, and mild to moderate bite issues can be corrected with clear aligners. Cost may be prohibitive to some, but for many others, the benefits outweigh the cost. A thorough screening from (insert practice) will help show you which orthodontic treatment is right for you.

Traditional vs. Clear Aligner Orthodontia

Traditional braces consist of old-school metal brackets, mini brackets, and tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth to make them less conspicuous than traditional braces, but they still use brackets and wires to do the work. Brushing and flossing can be tricky since the brackets are cemented to the teeth. Staining is common, and in some cases can be permanent.

Clear aligner trays are worn for at least 22 hours a day. You remove them to eat and brush, so keeping teeth clean and stain-free tends to be easier with clear aligners. A set of clear plastic trays slowly guide teeth into place. Most people change trays every two weeks, though individual treatments plans vary. Like traditional braces, when treatment is complete in six months to two years, retainers keep teeth from shifting back to their old positions.

For more information, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today!

Why Your Teeth Are Important

Why Your Teeth Are ImportantYou know your teeth are important, keeping a white smile and a healthy mouth are extremely important to a confident smile and pearly white teeth. But there are other positive benefits to keeping your mouth squeaky clean.

Not only does it keep your teeth clean, keep you from any painful and expensive dental work and prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease but it helps you to keep your teeth and body healthy for years to come.

How can brushing your teeth keep your body healthy?

A healthy mouth may help you ward off many medical issues such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases and illnesses. Your mouth is a window into your body and detection of any other symptoms or illnesses that may be lurking. There are many systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, for example, often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Your doctor can not only look in your mouth for potential issues but they can also check for a variety of issues by testing your saliva such as; high cortisol levels in saliva are used to test for stress responses in newborn children. And fragments of certain bone-specific proteins may be useful in monitoring bone loss in women and men prone to osteoporosis. Certain cancer markers are also detectable in saliva.

A threat that is very present in your mouth, especially in relation to your dental upkeep is plaque. If you aren’t properly brushing or flossing, plaque will build upon your gums and your gumline which creates a perfect harbor for bacteria in certain areas between your teeth and in your gums. A dangerous gum infection is gingivitis but left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis. The most severe form of gum infection is called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as trench mouth. That is why it is so important to regularly check your teeth, and see your dentist frequently.

In addition, infected teeth can often make you feel sick and extremely fatigued, as well as other flu-like symptoms. So if you are feeling exceptionally under the weather and have an aching tooth you may be suffering from issues related to the infected tooth making it very important to have it extracted or filled.

While visiting the dentist frequently can help detect any issues, making sure you keep up your dental routine of twice-daily brushing and flossing. Making sure that you combine mouthwash and rinsing after each meal is very important.

Make sure to speak to your dental professional about the right steps for making sure your mouth is clean and healthy, and ensure that they do a thorough check of your oral health each time you visit so that your smile is more than just beautiful. It’s healthy too!

For more information, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today!

11 Tips for a Healthy Mouth

11 Tips for a Healthy MouthIf you want to keep smiling with a healthy and well functioning set of pearly whites, follow these easy tips to help you keep your teeth healthy.

1.Brush at least twice a day.

The best time to brush teeth is at the start and end of each day or after meals. Choose a toothbrush with a small head for better access to back teeth. Soft bristles are kinder on your gums. Toothbrushes should be changed 3-4 times a year.

2. Start kids on a dental regimen early on.

One in four young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have cavities. Start with a regimen when the first tooth appears, using a super soft brush or cloth to clean teeth until the age of two when they can begin brushing for themselves, under your careful supervision.

3. Use fluoridated toothpaste.

Fluoride helps to harden tooth enamel and reduces your risk of decay. Many people drink water that is fluoridated, but if yours is not there is a specialized fluoride application that can be placed on your teeth. Many kinds of toothpaste and mouth rinses contain fluoride – but be careful not to use too much as it can cause white spots on teeth.

4. Seal your teeth.

Permanent molars come in around age 6. Thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can prevent decay in the pits and fissures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can significantly reduce caries. Yet only one in three U.S. kids receives dental sealants. Talk to your dental professional.

5. Floss your teeth daily.

Use a slow and gentle sawing motion when flossing at least once, if not twice a day, and especially when recognizing food debris in your teeth.

6. Limit acidic drinks like soft drinks, cordials, and fruit juices.

Food acids soften tooth material and dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel, causing holes (cavities or caries). In severe cases, teeth may be ‘eaten’ right down to the gum.

7. Limit sugary foods.

That gummy worm and all the sugar gets lodged in your teeth and creates a cavity playground.

8. Protect your teeth from injury.

Wear a mouthguard when playing sports.

9. Try to save a knocked-out tooth.

If possible, hold the tooth back in place while you seek immediate dental advice. If this is not possible, wrap the tooth in plastic or place it in milk and seek dental help as soon as possible.

10. Avoid using your teeth for anything other than chewing food.

If you use them to crack nuts, remove bottle tops or rip open packaging, you risk chipping or even breaking your teeth.

11. See your dentist for regular check-ups.

You should also visit your dentist if you have a dental problem such as a toothache or bleeding gums.

Dental health doesn’t have to be difficult, following these simple steps you can ensure your best dental health and smile for years to come! For more information, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today!

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainers After Braces

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainers After BracesAfter you have completed your orthodontic treatment, it is important to continue caring for your teeth. Once your braces are removed, a retainer may be proper treatment to keep your teeth straight. Following the recommendations from your orthodontist can ensure your teeth continue to stay in perfect alignment.

What Do Retainers Do?

  • Retainers hold your teeth in position – Retainers will assist in holding your new smile in place throughout the initial post-braces phase when the tissues surrounding the teeth adjust to their new locations.
  • Avoids teeth a recurrence of malocclusion – Following this initial phase, retainers will be worn at night to avoid teeth moving and a recurrence of the malocclusion that existed before braces.
  • It helps settle the teeth on the new position – They are usually made of metal or clear plastic and fit over the top or bottom teeth (or both). Wearing them will help your teeth stay in their new position while they settle into their new position and form attachments to the jawbone.

What Happens When the Patient Removes Retainer After Braces?

The most frequently asked question is, “What happens if I forget to wear my retainer after braces?” If you do not wear your retainer regularly, your teeth may return to their original misalignment.

We usually remind clients that if they have braces for the first time and then stop seeing an orthodontist or dentist who can monitor their teeth to ensure they remain in the proper place, wearing a retainer may be one of the most essential things they ever do for themselves.

Retainer Maintenance and Care

  • Wear that retainer every night to ensure your teeth stay exactly where they should be.
  • Be sure you’re not wearing it while eating.
  • Schedule an appointment if your retainer breaks or is misplaced.

Retainers are an integral part of your orthodontic treatment. Retainers help keep your teeth aligned long after your braces are removed. If you have questions about your smile, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

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