Daly City dentist explains the symptoms and treatments for TMD
Many patients in Daly City have noticed some soreness or a popping sound in their jaws. This can be especially noticeable after eating something that is difficult to chew or opening the mouth very wide. Sometimes the discomfort is mild, goes away quickly, and is not cause for alarm. Other times, however, the pain can be severe, last for many days, or begin to affect other areas of the head, face, or neck.
Understanding why they are feeling this pain is the first step to feeling better. The lower jaw is attached to the head by temporomandibular joints – or TMJs. These joints allow the mouth to open and close and move from side to side so that patients can chew and speak. When the TMJs are working appropriately with the muscles and tissues in the face, they don’t even notice this joint or its activities. However, when something is out of alignment, it can bring much attention to the joints. This condition is commonly called temporomandibular disorder or TMD.
TMD can be caused by an injury such as trauma to the face, or it can be caused from habits or health issues such as stress, clenching or grinding the teeth (many people do this subconsciously or even in their sleep), arthritis, frequently chewing gum, or a misalignment of the jaw. Generally, patients who are impacted by TMD feel pain in the joints of the jaw, or their head, face, neck, or shoulders. Patients may also feel that their ability to open and close the jaw is limited, may hear a clicking or popping noise, or may have unexplained headaches and ear pain.
Because the symptoms of TMD can vary greatly from person to person, it is often misdiagnosed or can cause patients to think they have no problem at all. However, Dr. Leo Arellano is skilled at not only diagnosing but properly correcting TMD issues. While pain medication can mask the discomfort, it can’t actually heal the disorder. After examining the mouth and making a diagnosis, Dr. Arellano will recommend a treatment plan that could include any of the following:
- Instruction to change behavior or habits that irritate the jaw
- Use of cold packs for pain and discomfort
- Stretching exercises
- Addressing bite alignment issues with orthodontic treatment
- Wearing a dental appliance that will properly align the jaw to prevent clenching or grinding the teeth.
Those who suspect that they have TMD can call Dr. Arellano’s office today to schedule an appointment. Once the diagnosis is complete they can be on the path to feeling better.