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Spokane Valley, WA

A woman suffering from TMJ pain in Spokane Valley, WAThe temporomandibular joints, commonly called the TMJ, are the joints responsible for the movement of your mouth. You have two of these joints, one on each side of the face where the mandible meets the skull. The TMJ work together with the bones of your jaw, the muscles, and the ligaments to move your jaw up and down as well as side to side. If your TMJ become irritated and then inflamed, you may be faced with excruciating pain. This pain can interfere with even the most basic functions of your mouth. Coulter Family Dentistry can diagnose the cause of your issues and provide you with the appropriate treatment such as mouthguards to restore the health of your TMJ and your mouth, as well as your quality of life.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder also referred to as TMJ disorder or TMD, are a term that covers some different issues that affect the TMJ and the surrounding bones, muscles, and ligaments. These issues irritate your TMJ, which then leads to inflammation. This can then lead to significant pain and other complications. Common symptoms of TMD include:

•  Facial pain and swelling.
•  Trouble opening your mouth.
•  Experiencing pain when you eat or talk.
•  Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds or sensations when you move your mouth.
•  Lockjaw. This is a condition in which your jaw temporarily locks, and you cannot move it.
•  Chronic headaches and earaches.

How Do I Get TMD?

TMD can be caused by several different issues.

•  Bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. The excessive forces exerted put pressure on the teeth, the jaw, and the TMJ. The muscles may also tire as a result of overuse. This condition is often caused by stress or alignment issues.
•  Facial trauma. Injuries sustained as a result of a car accident, sports injury, or a fall can lead to TMD.
•  Jaw dislocation. When your jaw is dislocated, it can cause tiny tears in the joint that irritate it and lead to inflammation. Even temporary dislocation as a result of whiplash can cause problems.
•  Arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes the degradation of the cartilage in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint inflammation.

Diagnosing TMD

Diagnosing TMD requires a thorough oral exam. We visually inspect your teeth for unusual wear. Your teeth and jaw are assessed for alignment issues. We also take images of your mouth, such as X-rays, that allow us to see the otherwise invisible areas of your mouth. With a complete exam, we can determine the cause of your TMD and provide you with the most effective treatment possible.

Treatment Options for TMD

There are several treatments available for TMD. The exact treatment you receive will depend upon the cause.

•  Treatment at home. For minor TMD, we may recommend over the counter or prescription pain relievers. We may also recommend stress relieving techniques if you have stress-related bruxism.
•  Oral appliances. Oral appliances, or night guards, are commonly recommended for mild to moderate bruxism. It holds your jaw in proper alignment and provides a cushion against the forces your jaw muscles exert.
•  Botox. Botox injections can weaken the muscles in the jaw that cause bruxism, preventing grinding and clenching.
•  Orthodontics. If TMD is caused by alignment issues, orthodontics can often help.
•  Oral surgery. For more severe cases of TMD, oral surgery may be recommended. There are a few different procedures that may be performed to help restore the health of your TMJ.

If your oral health, and your quality of life, have been affected by TMD, we can help. Call Coulter Family Dentistry to schedule your consultation today at 509-924-1314.
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1601 S. Dishman Mica Road,
Spokane Valley WA 99206-3300

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