What are
TMD/TMJ Disorders?

What are
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD/TMJ)?

TMD/TMJ is a group of related conditions affecting the jaw joint, the muscles involved with chewing, and associated structures. Pain from the muscles involved with chewing can coexist with temporomandibular joint pain (this joint allows jaw movement and is located in front of the ear).

Moving your jaw or chewing may worsen pain. Other complaints include clicking, popping, shifting and locking of your jaw, ear pain (not caused by an infection), limited mouth opening, headaches, neck pain and sensitivity in your teeth. TMD is most common in young and middle aged adults.

How are TMD/TMJ disorders diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a comprehensive face, head and neck examination, including jaw range of motion, joint sounds and palpation of your muscles to find areas of tenderness/pain. Your dentist may also require additional testing which may include x-rays, CT scans or MRI to evaluate your TMJ.

No single cause of TMD has been identified. Some factors that have been associated with TMD include systemic disease (Lyme disease, tumors, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis), trauma (direct impact, whiplash injury, clenching/grinding teeth). Stress, anxiety and depression can also be contributing factors, but in most cases more than one factor contributes to developing this type of pain.

Talk to your dentist if you are experiencing headaches, ear pain, ear ache, clicking, popping sounds of the jaw joints, pain in the cheek, limited mouth opening, inability to open the mouth smoothly, or jaw deviation to one side.

How are TMD/TMJ disorders evaluated?

Your dentist will complete a comprehensive evaluation of the face, head and neck, including a review of your medical, dental and pain history.

How are TMD/TMJ disorders treated?

Your doctor may recommend an oral appliance or mouthguard, physical therapy, posture training, ice and heat packs, diet changes to rest jaw muscles, behavior changes and relaxation techniques.

What is TMD/TMJ?

TMD is a condition with a diverse group of problems involving the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons and bone. The cause could involve multiple factors, including environmental, social, emotional and biologic triggers.

The temporomandibular joint connects your skull to the lower jaw, this joint allows movements to open and close your mouth, slide the jaw backward and forward, and move the jaw side to side.

What are the symptoms of TMD/TMJ?

Symptoms include pain and tenderness in your jaw, locking of the jaw joint, pain or difficulty chewing, ear pain, and headaches. If you have pain in the jaw, or if have you difficulty moving, opening and closing your jaw, or any of the symptoms described, talk to your dentist to discuss treatment options.

What are some of the treatments used to relieve TMD/TMJ pain?

Most patients improve with a combination of non-invasive treatments such as oral splint/mouthguard made by your dentist, the application of ice/heat, soft food diet, relaxation techniques, medications including anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and physical therapy.

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