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Complete Family Dentistry | Temporomandibular Disorders in Schaumburg

Complete Family Dentistry
1305 Wiley Rd, Ste 103
Schaumburg, IL 60173

(847) 843-1505

Temporomandibular Disorders

Many people who suffer from such seemingly disparate symptoms as headaches, earaches, tenderness of the jaw joints or muscles, or dull aching facial pain often share a common problem.  These people may suffer from a family of problems related to the jaw muscles and the jay (temporomandibular, or “TM”) joint.  These problems are often referred to as TM disorders. The muscles and joints may not function properly, resulting in cycles of pain and spasm.  The causes of some TM disorders are not well understood.  Because of this, there are varying opinions about disgnosis and treatment of these conditions.

How the chewing muscles and jaw joints work:

The structures that make it possible to open and close the mouth are very specialized and work together when you chew, speak and swallow.  These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the bones and discs which make up the TM joints.

A number of muscles allow you to open and close your mouth. They also control forward, backward and side-to side movements of the lower jaw. Both oints also are involved in these movements. Each of these joints has a disc between the ball and socket. This disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and to move in combinations of hinge and gliding movements.  Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a TM disorder. 

Causes of TM Disorders

When muscles and joints do not work properly the muscles will often go into a spasm (cramp). This spasm can become part of a cycle that results in tissue damage, pain, muscle tenderness and more spasm.

While some cases of TM disorder may have clear-cut causes such as trauma, arthritis, or severe stress, most are dus to a combination of factors. Discs often slip forward in the joint, leading to problems such as clicking, popping, or even getting “struck” for a moment.  However, these often are monor problems, and in the absence of jaw pain they usually don’t require treatment.

Oral habits such as clenching or grinding the teeth (bruxism) may develope as a response to stress, or as part of a sleep disorder.  You may not be aware pf nighttime clenching or grinding, but you may catch yourself doing this during the day. These habits can tire the muscles and casue them to go into spasm. The spasm causes pain which in turn causes more spasm. In time, persistent muscle problem may affect the joints themselves, and a complex cucle of pain and improper function will be set up.

It is important to note that while may of the above fators are believed to casue TM disorders, the exact causes of the disorders are unknown and sometimes it is not possible to determine the causes of the symptoms.

Signs and Symptom of TM Disorders:

TM disorders have may signs and symptoms. Some of the most common ones include the following:

  • Pain in or around the ear, sometimes spreading to the face.
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • Clicking or popping noise when one opens or closes the mouth
  • Difficulty in opening one’s mouth
  • Jaws that “get stuck.” “lock”, or “go out”
  • Pain brought on by yawning, chewing or opening the mouth widely
  • Certain types of headaches or neckaches

Your dentist can recommend a course of treatment by taking a complete history, conducting a clinical examination and by taking approporiate X-rays, or perhaps other diagnostic tests.  To the extent that the causes of your TM disorder can be identified, proper diqgnosis is an improtant step before treatment.  It can save time and money by ensuring that you receive the treatment appropriate for your particular problem. 

Treatment for TM Disorders:

Treatments for TM disorders vary, based on your individual diagnosis. The  dentist may recommend a treatment involving a series of phases. This step-by-step plan is in your best interest because only monor corrective treatment may be needed.

Schaumburg Dentist | Temporomandibular Disorders. Jeffrey Swager is a Schaumburg Dentist.