TMJ/TMD Treatment in Spokane, WA

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the skull to the lower jaw. The complex TMJ system is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments and discs that work together to open and close the jaw and move it side-to-side.

What Is TMD?

Problems with the TMJ are known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMD is a degenerative disease that affects the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles responsible for chewing and moving the jaw.

It is not always possible to identify the exact cause of TMD, but dentists that regularly treat it believe TMD is often the result of the following:

  • constant pressure on the TMJ from grinding or clenching the teeth
  • dislocating the disc between the ball and socket of the TMJ
  • developing arthritis in the joint

Symptoms of TMJ disorder can be intermittent or chronic, ranging from mild to severe. They include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, neck or shoulders
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Joint popping or clicking
  • Muscle stiffness or soreness
  • Jaw that gets “locked” in the open or closed position
  • Toothaches
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Earaches
  • Hearing problems or tinnitus

Battling TMJ problems can interfere with daily activities. The pain can be constant, and make chewing and speaking unbearable. Some people with TMD suffer nutritional deficiencies due to limitations on their diet. Dizziness or vertigo can impede the ability to drive, read or perform other everyday tasks.

How Is TMD Treated?

Non-invasive therapeutic treatments for TMJ disorders can help alleviate these symptoms and prevent further degeneration of the joint and disk. Treatment can be relatively simple, and Dr. Ryan R. Love has successfully helped numerous patients recover or effectively manage their TMJ symptoms.

In most cases, a customized bite guard is made to help position the patient’s jaws into a correct resting relationship. This trains the joint to function properly, and prevents excessive pressure on the surrounding muscles. Some people find that they only need to wear their bite guard during the night, but other people may elect to wear it in the daytime as well. Each guard is custom made for a comfortable fit that stays in place for a restful night’s sleep.

Making certain lifestyle changes can help minimize the painful effects of TMD. For example, applying cold or hot packs can reduce swelling and inflammation. Physical therapy can help gently stretch the muscles in the jaw and reduce tension. Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers can minimize pain and reduce inflammation.

Contact Dr. Ryan Love

For more information about the treatment and management of TMD, please call (509) 928-2525 or email our practice today.