TMJD: Temporomandibular Joint Disease
If you have ever noticed tooth sensitivity or unusual wear on your teeth, clicking or popping of
your jaw upon opening, or sore muscles in your jaw, chances are that you may be suffering from
temporomandibular joint disease, or TMJD. This is a serious disease that is too often ignored by
the dental profession. Without appropriate treatment, this disease will progress, eventually
causing irreparable damage to the joint and supporting structure of your jaw.
Do you have questions about TMJD? Or would you like to schedule an appointment?
Please call 425-643-5778 or contact us online.
What is TMJD?
TMJD is a complex condition that affects your temporomandibular joint. This joint normally acts
like a sliding hinge between your jawbone and your skull, but in people with TMJD, it becomes
misaligned. TMJD causes a wide range of symptoms including characteristic clicking sounds,
jaw pain, and even earaches. Some people find that their range of motion is restricted, making it
difficult to fully open or close the jaw.
What causes TMJD?
Although stress is often implicated in TMJD, probably due to the fact that anxious people are
more likely to clench the jaw or grind the teeth, it is usually not the root cause of the disease. In
most cases, if not all, the actual problem is a misalignment of your teeth in relation to each other
and to your joint. When you chew, the muscles will pull your jaw out of alignment to create as
balanced a bite as possible. This pulling of the muscles creates a lot of stress in both the muscles
and the joint capsule. Symptoms of this stress include the clicking, popping, and pain noted
How is TMJD treated?
The best treatment for TMJD is to eliminate the excessive muscular activity. This is done by
creating a bite that is in harmony with itself and with the joint, allowing the muscles to relax
naturally. This eliminates the pain and stops the progressive destruction of the joint capsule.
If you have suffered for years with jaw pain, Dr. Galloway and Dr. Song can help. They have
treated many chronic pain sufferers, successfully eliminating or drastically improving their level
of pain. Our doctors begin every treatment plan with a thorough, caring, and professional
evaluation. They will ask about your health history, check the range of motion in your jaw, listen
for characteristic pops and clicks, and test your bite. You might also need Xrays or another type
of imaging such as an MRI or CT scan.
The severity of your symptoms and the actual causes of those symptoms will determine the types
of treatment that would be best suited for you. Once your examination is complete, our doctors
will review their findings and go over their recommendations with you. In many cases, the
treatment process will require additional appointments. Your individualized treatment plan is
based on your symptoms, the severity of your problems, and the complexity involved in
eliminating the causal issues.
Home treatment options
Your TMJD treatment plan will likely include both inoffice and home care procedures. Your
dentist will provide written instructions for exactly which home treatments you should perform
based on your individual situation. Here are a few commonly recommended suggestions.
- Soft foods: While the goal of treatment is to return your jaw to full, healthy, regular use,
eating certain foods can worsen the pain while you are trying to heal. When possible,
choose soft foods such as fish, scrambled eggs, yogurt, wellcooked vegetables and fruits,
and other easy to chew options. Cut other foods into small bites to lessen chewing, and
skip hard or sticky foods that require a lot of breaking down.
- Relax your jaw: Make a conscious effort to hold your teeth slightly apart, keeping your
tongue between them if necessary. Minimize activities that require large mouth
movements such as singing or yelling. Temporarily stop chewing gum or ice.
- Watch your posture: Maintaining natural head and neck posture can help the muscles
relax. Avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and ear, resting your chin on your
hand, or slouching when you sit.
- Alternate heat and cold: Both warm compresses and ice packs play a valuable role in
relaxing and healing your jaw. Ask your dentist for detailed instructions on when to use
which type of compress.
At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our
patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in
Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health,
we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.