Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) causes many kinds of symptoms. This term describes a group of problems related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and nearby facial, neck and head muscles. The complexity of the anatomy is part of the reason this disorder is often difficult to correctly diagnose. You may have headaches, tooth pain, or muscle aches or spasms. A sudden or progressive change in the way your teeth fit together or limited opening of the jaws are both signs to seek evaluation.
Internal Joint Problems
TMJ/TMD problems include tight muscles, joint inflammation, joint damage, or teeth grinding or clenching. There is often joint noise such as clicking, popping or even locking of the jaw. Left untreated, these early signs and symptoms may progress and cause real damage to the TMJ structures, leading to internal derangement. If internal damage of the joint is suspected, an MRI may be recommended to help Dr. Geric accurately diagnose any internal joint problems.
Fortunately, the problem is more commonly muscular in nature and reversible. Muscle fatigue occurs due to the upper and lower jaws being out of alignment, the teeth being misaligned, tipped, crowded or spaced too far apart causing a shift between where the teeth fit together and where the jaw joints are happy. Dr. Geric can align the teeth and jaws with braces and other devices, providing a more comfortable bite while preventing long-term problems such as abnormal tooth wear and internal joint damage.
Dr. Geric can also help manage TMJ/TMD problems with a splint. Sometimes just a few teeth are being overworked, supporting a poor bite that results in muscle fatigue. A splint is a custom acrylic appliance that fits in the mouth over the teeth and helps distributes bite forces, so that all of the teeth are working together. This removes interference while relieving discomfort. There are different types of splints for different types of needs. A splint can keep the upper and lower teeth apart, provide palliative relief, and simultaneously assist in a definitive diagnosis, resulting in the management of TMJ/TMD symptoms.
At the initial consultation, Dr. Geric will determine a working diagnosis and assess various treatment options. Please call our office at (813) 920-7720 to schedule an appointment, and we will help you understand what is going on.