Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) affects the movement of your jaw. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are among the most complex joints in the body. They act like a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull and sufferers of this disorder may experience pain in the joint and muscles that control the jaw’s movement.
The good news is – in most cases, this isn’t serious. The condition usually gets better on its own and there are treatments available for patients that need them.
What causes TMD?
Quite often, the actual cause of a patient’s TMD is unclear, and varies from patient to patient. In most cases, the underlying cause is excessive strain on the jaw joints and muscles that control chewing, swallowing and talking. This is often due to an uneven bite, grinding of the teeth (bruxism) or even trauma to the jaw, head or neck.
In some cases, TMD is caused by arthritis and displacement of the jaw joint disks.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
Symptoms can vary for each person, depending on how severe their disorder is. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Painful or tender jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aches in or around the ears, or ringing of the ears
- Pain or difficulty when chewing
- Aches around the face or temples
- Jaw clicks or locks, and moving the mouth is difficult
- Teeth sensitivity
- The upper and lower teeth don’t fit together as well
What are the risk factors involved?
Some people are more at risk of developing TMD than others. You have more chance of developing the disorder if you already suffer from any of the following:
- A jaw injury
- Long-term (chronic) bruxism
- Diseases that affect the connective tissues around the temporomandibular joints
For milder cases of TMD, there are some things you can do at home to ease the pain around your jaw. Try only eating soft foods, take over-the-counter pain medication, hold ice packs or heat packs to the jaw, and gently massage the painful muscles around the jaw. Try to avoid biting down on hard foods (or your nails), yawning too widely, and clenching your teeth.
If the pain doesn’t ease or keeps returning, or is impacting your daily life, it’s time to see your dentist or doctor. They will choose the most appropriate treatment by looking at factors like your age, medical history and severity of condition, with some possible treatments including:
- Stronger pain relief medication
- Relaxation techniques to reduce stress and help you sleep
- Physical therapy
- Treatments to stop teeth clenching or grinding (such as a mouthguard)
- Diet change recommendations, for less stress on the jaw muscles
- Ice packs and heat packs
Contact your Templestowe dentist
If you’re concerned about pain in the mouth or teeth grinding, contact your dentist. We can examine your mouth and recommend some treatments to ease the pain and ensure TMD doesn’t disrupt your life or sleep. For all serious cases, we’ll recommend you see a doctor. Give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected] to speak to a member of our team.
Everyone knows about the negative impacts of smoking on your heart and lungs, but it can also be seriously detrimental to oral health. It’s estimated that over 11% of Australian adults smoke (2019 data), and this group of the population are at greater risk of tooth discolouration, gum disease and recession, tooth loss, mouth sores and even mouth cancer.
The truth is that the outcomes of smoking cigarettes go beyond just bad breath, so let’s explore some of the ways smoking can affect your oral health.
Some of the less concerning effects of smoking include tooth staining, bad breath (halitosis), and a loss of smell and taste. This staining is due to the nicotine and tar present in tobacco, which can make teeth look yellow over time – and even brown in heavy smokers. Although nicotine itself is colourless, it turns yellow when it reacts with oxygen, and is absorbed into the pores in your teeth, making them appear darker.
The only way to correct the effects of tobacco discolouration is with teeth whitening from your dentist.
Smoking weakens the immune system and reduces your body’s ability to fight off infections – including gum disease. Additionally, smoking produces more bacterial plaque that can lead to gum disease, and because smoking reduces oxygen in the bloodstream, gums don’t heal as easily.
It’s estimated that people who smoke are twice at risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers, and gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
Smoking supports the build-up of bacteria, plaque and tartar which can lead to cavities and tooth loss. Tobacco can irritate the gum tissue which causes gums to loosen around the teeth, providing more room for bacteria to settle in, leading to decay.
Mouth sores & ulcers
Mouth sores and ulcers are more prevalent in smokers and interestingly, studies have found that people that quit smoking experience an increase in mouth ulcers in the two weeks after stopping smoking. These issues got milder with time and all ulcers mostly disappeared within four weeks after quitting.
In extreme circumstances, smokers can develop oral cancer. This is because of the exposure to harmful chemicals found in tobacco, which mutates the healthy cells in the mouth and throat. Oral cancer predominantly occurs on the tongue, floor of the mouth and gums. It starts as red or white spots which can become open sores, and treatment is usually radiation therapy or surgery. Affected tissue and part of the jawbone may need to be removed, which can affect the look of the face, and the patient’s ability to chew or talk.
It’s estimated that smokers are six times more likely to develop mouth cancer than non-smokers.
Book an appointment at King Street Dental
Whether you smoke or not, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly. If you have any concerns about anything mentioned here, give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 and our experienced team members can provide advice and book an appointment with our dentists.