Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) and the COVID-19 Pandemic
8118 Dental Professionals is a privately owned dental practice serving the Austin area for over forty five years. Our vision is and has always been to form a partnership with our patients with the goal of achieving optimal oral health. We believe in a team approach to treatment with our three doctors with over sixty years of combined experience.
One of the most common ailments we see on a day to day basis is pain related to the temporomandibular joint. It is nine times more likely to affect women than men. It can come and go throughout one’s lifetime and range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain.
With the recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a steep increase in TMJ related pain in our office, referred to as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The jaw joint is similar to other joints in our body – when overworked it can lead to pain, clicking, popping, and limited movement. Other associated symptoms can include headaches or back and neck pain. This can be draining on a day to day basis both mentally and physically. At 8118 Dental Professionals we understand how this can affect one’s quality of life if left untreated. We have invested heavily in continuing education courses related to properly diagnosing and caring for disorders related to the TMJ. TMD typically occurs when the teeth, muscle, and joint are not functioning in harmony. This can happen for many reasons. When this happens you tend to see symptoms arise in one or more of these areas. These symptoms can include cracking or breaking of teeth, pain in the muscles, headaches, or joint dysfunction.
Possible causes of this could be an uneven bite, clenching and grinding, muscle strain, or degeneration of the joint. When visiting our office you can expect a thorough evaluation of your bite and TMJ. We will evaluate your individual risk factors and customize an appropriate management protocol for you. Then, we will typically make a diagnostic device called a deprogrammer. This allows the muscles of the jaw to relax and places your jaw joint in its most ideal position. From there, we gain critical information for what your best treatment options would be. Treatment options range from treating the bite and teeth to jaw exercises to strengthen the TMJ system.
People tend to carry a lot of stress in their facial muscles. Between chewing and speaking throughout the day most people are not getting adequate rest periods. This can exacerbate any underlying issues with the TMJ there may be. With our diagnostic treatments we are able to ideally relax those areas to understand more of where each individual functions best. Leaving jaw problems untreated could lead to chronic debilitating pain and an inability to function normally when chewing and speaking. A well functioning jaw joint can allow us to live healthier lives.
Our doctors specialize in working together to treat these complex issues. If you have ever suffered from jaw, joint, or facial pain or are just curious about the health of your bite, we would love to see you for a consultation to discuss your individual needs. We look forward to meeting with you soon!
Dr. Erica Elward