TMJ Therapy

Girl with tooth pain

TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) refers to any problem that prevents the complex system of ligaments, muscles, bones and discs from working properly. TMD specifically means that the hinge that connects the lower and upper jaw is not functioning as it should. This particular hinge is one of the most complex joints in the human body – responsible for the action of moving the jaw side-to-side, forward and backward. Someone who has a TMD might experience or feel a clicking or popping sound in the jaw when opening and closing, they might even have their jaw get “stuck” for moments at a time.

Function Of The Temporomandibular Joint

The main purpose of the TMJ is to allow the fluid movement of the mouth both side-to-side and up and down. The TMJ, when optimally aligned, allow the teeth to meet in an ideal bite position, which allows the proper speaking and chewing function without any hindrance of discomfort.

A normal functioning TMJ is essential for the comfort of the jaw, in addition to the ability to eat and speak properly. If the TMJ is misaligned, you might notice that you feel moderate to severe discomfort in the jaw, experience frequent headaches, as well as sinus infections. Dr. Woodyard has much experience in identifying and treating alignment issues of the TMJ. Treating or rather managing TMD effectively is essential in preventing additional concerns that might be associated with TMD in the future.

Symptoms Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

There are many signs and symptoms that can be associated with TMD and because the symptoms that indicate TMD also could point to a number of other issues, it is often times difficult to point the finger of blame at the TMJ.

Some of the most common symptoms that might indicate a disorder of the TMJ include:

  • A popping or clicking sound when closing or opening the jaw

  • Severe headaches, pressure and pain behind the eyes, and earaches

  • Pain that is irritated by opening the mouth too wide, chewing or yawning<

  • A jaw that gets “stuck”

  • A change (often suddenly) in the way that the lower and upper teeth fit together

  • Tenderness in the muscles of the jaw

How Are Disorders Of The Tmj Treated?

There is no single cure to treat disorders of the TMJ. However, there are a number of treatment options that Dr. Woodyard might prescribe in an effort to reduce the discomfort of symptoms dramatically. Some of these treatment options include:

  • Custom created mouth guard: A custom created mouth guard can often reduce the harmful effects to the jaw that result from grinding or clenching.

  • Certain medications and the application of moist heat, as well as the use of over the counter analgesics can eliminate muscle spasms that lead to pain and discomfort.

  • Jaw or joint surgery (often a last resort)

  • Teaching effective relaxation techniques that help to control the muscle tension in the jaw.

Dr. Woodyard is highly experienced in treating and reducing the pain that is associated with disorders of the TMJ. He will work closely with you to formulate the most effective treatment plan based on your specific needs.

If you have any questions regarding the TMJ or TMD, please call the offices of Dr. Woodyard today.