Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Many people mistakenly call disorders of the temporomandibular joint TMJ, when that is actually just an abbreviation for the joint itself. A more appropriate abbreviation for these disorders is TMD. Below, we discuss how these are related, what causes TMDs, the signs and symptoms to look out for, and the treatment process.

What are the TMJs?

The temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the joints that connect the jaw to the skull on each side of the head. They are very intricate joints that allow complex three-dimensional movement simultaneously of your jaw.

What causes TMD?

Potential contributing factors of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, or TMD, can be:

  • Muscle Hyperactivity
  • Inflammation/Trauma
  • Muscle pain
  • Gender (females are more susceptible)
  • Age-related wear
  • Psychological stress
  • Bone deformities
  • Tendon and ligament damage

No matter what the cause of the TMD, evaluation by a dental professional is necessary to determine the most effective treatment. Our goal of TMD treatment is to most conservatively minimize any pain and long-term negative impact on the joint.

What are the symptoms of TMDs?

TMDs are characterized by:

  • Pain in the joint and related muscles
  • Limited motion
  • Popping or clicking in the joint
  • Inability to open or close mouth properly
  • Referred pain to neck, ears, and other nearby anatomic structures

How are TMDs treated?

When it comes to treating temporomandibular joint disorders, we believe in trying the least invasive approaches first. Our initial treatment recommendations focus on resting the affected joints and muscles through:

  • A change to a softer diet
  • Alternating cold and moist heat application
  • Gentle stretches
  • Massage therapy
  • Occlusal guards

If these techniques do not provide relief, we can prescribe NSAID pain relievers and/or muscle relaxers for breakthrough pain. Muscle relaxers, such as Botox, are another option to decrease muscle activity. If none of these non-invasive treatments work, we may refer you to an oral surgeon that specializes in treating degenerative TMJ and surgery. 

TMD Relief in St. Petersburg

Lowry and Obrochta Dentistry St. Petersburg is here to help our neighbors in St. Pete suffering from TMD. Our team of knowledgeable dental professionals will provide you with competent and compassionate care, no matter what your dental issue is. This includes empowering all of our patients with information about their condition and exactly how we plan to approach treatment. Patient education is key. We believe that our patients should always be 100% informed and comfortable with any treatment they receive, and we work hard to meet this goal. Come find out why so many Tampa Bay residents trust Dr. Lowry with their dental health needs today!