temporomandibular disorder

TMD-TMJ Treatment in Tukwila, WA

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial & neck pain as well as recurrent headaches. In some cases this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

The fact is TMD has become quite common. Your temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn.

Stress often presents itself as chronic myofacial fatigue & jaw pain. This stress can cause the temporomandibular joint and supporting ligaments to be placed under continued great stress and fatigue.

Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement. TMD can also result in headaches, tooth wear, clicking and other unpleasant symptoms.

Contact us today to learn more about TMD treatment

Symptoms of TMD

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, Ringing, or Stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or Popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let us know! We can help advise you as to whether they indicate the presence of TMD, and what sort of treatment is appropriate for you.

TMD symptom
xray of jaw

TMD Exam

Our approach to TMD is primarily non-pharmacological. We start with a thorough screening process. Identify the severity of the symptoms, and begin treatment with the least invasive techniques.

  • Review of your health history focusing on TMD triggers & symptoms.
  • Pan radiograph xray to exam the condition of the chondyle, disc and eminence. This depicts the current condition of the bone and cartilage structures of the jaw joint.
  • Physical exam of the jaw joint, supporting ligaments and surrounding muscles. Includes manual palpation of the jaw joint.
  • Oral exam of your natural bite & tooth wear. Many times wear on teeth due to TMD can be quite severe.
  • Acoustic exam of the TMJ. Clicking and popping, also known as crepitous, are listened for.

TMD Treatment

We treat TMD if diagnosed with the least invasive technique possible. Each patient is unique and requires a tailored treatment. Examples of our more common treatment options follow:

  • Behavior changes, by helping you in eliminating habits that exacerbate the problem.
  • Night guard to reduce TMJ fatigue over night.
  • Mandibular Repositioning Devices. This can help release pressure on the TMJ disc and associated ligaments.
  • Manual muscle stretching and relaxation. This can sometimes require physical therapy and chiropractic services.
  • Adjustment of bite.

In some rare cases, the jaw pain is multifactorial and will require specialized treatment outside the scope of Doctor Whitfield's practice. Dr. Whitfield partners with several practitioners in Seattle that utilize additional modalities such as medications to modify the pain response.

Additionally, sometimes TMD is part of a larger health issue that requires a multidisciplinary approach that must include your medical doctor.

TMD Treatment

TMD Prevention

There are some simple things you can do at home or work to help prevent TMD from occurring in your jaw joints.

  • Relax your face — Remember the rule: "Lips together, teeth apart"
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don't cradle the phone receiver between your head & shoulder — use a headset or hold the receiver to your ear
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared
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