Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) can be explained as a complex set of conditions characterized by pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues, as well as limitation in jaw movements. Injuries and other conditions that routinely affect other joints in the body, such as arthritis, also affect the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).
One or both joints and several muscles may be involved, and depending on the severity, can affect a person’s ability to function normally. Most TMD is created by abnormal clinching and/or grinding done by the patient at night when sleeping. In some instances, the muscles have no pain or symptoms, but the teeth are showing signs of accelerated age. Excessive sensitivity, abfractions (enamel loss on the side of the tooth), recession (root exposure from bone loss), and outer layers of enamel lost exposing the weaker dentin are some of the irreversible conditions caused by clinching or grinding that show premature aging. There are a variety of treatments to treat the symptoms of TMD and include the wearing of protective night guards. When the guard is in place and correctly adjusted by Dr. Brittain, the upper and lower teeth are prevented from placing excessive and harmful forces against each other. Stretching exercises, warm moist heat application to the affected areas, and eating soft foods during the more sensitive periods are recommended to speed healing. These guards are comfortable so you don’t have to worry about it affecting your sleep. If you snore at night, the guard may also help you reduce snoring over time.