TMD Simplified

Dr. Hoa Nguyen - Ottawa dentist - TMD simplified

TMD Symptoms

Chronic pain is a common symptom of Temporamandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) – be it in the neck, shoulders, face, ears, jaw, etc.

Symptoms can include:

  • Persistent headaches or migraines
  • Pain or pressure behind the eyes
  • Difficulty or pain while swallowing
  • Grinding and/or clenching of the teeth
  • Jaw popping or clicking when opening and closing
  • Limited mobility of the jaw
  • Feeling of “poor fit” between the upper and lower jaws

The symptoms are numerous and can vary significantly between individuals.

Estimates suggest that 25-30% of population suffers from some form of TMD.

It consumes a lot of energy to continue to function when faced with chronic pain and often influences a person’s entire life.

For a more comprehensive discussion of possible TMD Symptoms, please refer to our section entitled Common Symptoms of TMD

Causes of TMD

TMD is not a medical problem in the traditional sense, it is a functional issue wherein the balance and alignment of the body needs to be restored.

A large portion of that balance problem is related to the bite (the way in which the teeth come together).

The bite can be altered by:

  • Injury
  • Stress
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth)
  • Clenching of the jaws
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation or other connective tissue disorders
  • Breathing issues developed in early childhood (“mouth breathers” may develop poorly matching upper and lower arches that lead to a jaw imbalance)

When the bite is not balanced, there is a ripple effect that descends throughout the rest of the body.

The jaw muscles are usually the first area to be affected – they become overworked in order to compensate for the improper bite.

When this happens, other muscle groups are activated to help alleviate the workload of your jaw muscles.

As this occurs, there is usually a significant change in posture – instead of having an upright posture, the head drifts forward and the shoulders and hips begin to tilt to compensate for the changing head position.

This change in posture can have a negative impact on a number of other areas of your overall health and well being (refer to Common Symptoms of TMD for an in-depth look at the impact that TMD can have).

Treatment of TMD

When people first seek resolution to TMD, they may get solutions that simply mask the symptoms but do not eliminate them (i.e. pain killers or muscle relaxants.).

Dr. Nguyen studies the imbalance in the bite and develops options to restore the bite to its proper position – eliminating the need for the muscles to become overworked and consequently eliminating the need for the other muscles to compensate for the fatigued jaw muscles

The ULF-TENS technology is used to relax the muscle spasms in the Temporomandibular Joint.

The K7 Evaluation System is used to measure the viability of the bite while the muscles are relaxed and the jaw is expertly manipulated.

The occlusion (bite) can be stabilized and “tested” using a Temporary Orthotic Device.

The optimal occlusion can be preserved using Coronoplasty / Equilibration, Removable Overlay Partials, Reconstruction or Orthodontics depending upon the case requirements.