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TMJ & TMD Treatment, Greenwood SC

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ-TMD Patient TMJ or TMD are terms that commonly refer to diseases or disorders of the temporomandibular joint(s). The terms TMJ or TMD seek to address symptoms related to pain associated with the temporomandibular joint(s), muscles of mastication (“jaw muscles”) and related nerves as well as other anatomic structures of this region.

Symptoms can include difficulty and/or pain on opening or closing of the jaw, tenderness of the temporomandibular joint, tenderness of the muscles of mastication (“jaw muscles”), audible sounds (popping or clicking) originating from the temporomandibular joint, headaches particularly associated with the temporal region and a host of other symptoms.

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Severity of the symptoms can range from mild to severe as well as be described as constant or intermittent. Often patients seek help because symptoms have disrupted their ability to eat, sleep or concentrate during everyday tasks at work or home.

Are there different types of TMJ/TMD?

Although the term TMJ/TMD covers a variety of conditions which are much more complex in diagnosis and treatment, a simple breakdown of the issue may be of particular interest and easier to understand.
  • Myofascial pain is the most common type of TMJ/TMD. It is characterized by pain in the face and the jaw muscles that control typical jaw movement. Often it is characterized by difficulty in opening, closing, chewing and/or pain associated with these functions. A typical patient may also have headaches or tenderness of the temporal region.
  • Internal derangement is associated with the pathological changes that have occurred within the temporomandibular joint. Often there has been some type of trauma associated to initiate the change. The extent of the injury may be limited to a tear of a ligament or present with total displacement of the condylar disk, which may lead to osseous changes associated with the condyle of the mandible (“jawbone”) and further degeneration of the joint. CBCT scans and an MRI are recommended to fully diagnose this condition and determine proper options for treatment.
  • Inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues of the joint can occur from trauma and be self-limiting. This situation usually resolves with minimal intervention and may only involve the use of steroids or NSAID (medications like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc...) in conjunction with medications used for muscle relaxation.

What causes TMJ/TMD?

TMJ/TMD has a variety of issues that can precipitate symptoms. Often it is trauma from a fall or accident. Other issues implicated in precipitating symptoms classically considered TMJ/TMD can be bruxism also known as “clinching or grinding” of the teeth especially at night.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of TMJ/TMD is pain in the jaw muscles used for opening and closing the mouth. Additional symptoms can include:
  • Popping or clicking noise coming from the temporomandibular joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • Limited opening of the jaws (trismus)
  • Muscle tenderness or pain especially to palpation and function
  • Hypersensitive teeth without the presence of other dental pathology
  • Frequent tension headaches especially of the temporal region and often occurring after a restless night of sleep
  • Severely worn dentition
  • Numerous fractured or split teeth; including fractured dental restorations (“fillings”)

How is it treated?

Treatment includes the use of numerous modalities which ranges from pharmaceutical agents to hard acrylic mouth guards/splints to support the joints and control occlusal or bite forces. Some cases may include surgical intervention.
Dr. Christopher Griffin, DMD graduated from College of Charleston in 1989 and Medical University of South Carolina School of Dentistry in Charleston in 1993. Having completed a general practice residency at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, he started practicing in Greenwood, SC where he has been for 23 years.

He follows continuous education to advance his knowledge and skills for his patients’ benefit. He has many Fellowships from prestigious dental academies. He is also involved with several dental and charity organizations.

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