TMD Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

TMD Symptoms

The temporomandibular joint is both a hinging and a sliding joint (the only one you’ve got!) that allows the circular movement required to chew food properly. Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders or TMD. You also may hear it called TMJ, after the joint.

Because TMD symptoms can involve the jaw, ear, nose, throat, face, neck, upper back, and even the eyes, TMD is often misinterpreted as migraines, sinus problems, ear infections, etc.

Do I have TMD?

Try this quick exercise: Place a finger over the joint in front of your ear, then slowly open your jaw until you can feel the joint move. If you hear a grating, clicking, or cracking noise, or if it’s tender when you press, you may have a TMD.

TMD symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain or stiffness in the muscle
  • Popping or clicking jaw
  • Dislocated jaw
  • Earache
  • Pain in the face or neck
  • Not being able to open your jaw all the way, or your jaw getting “locked” open or closed

What Causes TMD?

We don’t know what causes TMD exactly, but several things may contribute to the issue:

  • Shifting of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
  • Arthritis, which can damage the cartilage around the joint
  • Trauma to the jaw from an accident or injury
  • Stress, or involuntary clenching of the teeth
  • Sleep apnea

Diagnosis of and Treatment for TMD

Your dentist may do a variety of physical tests to check your bite and jaw movement, as well as some X-rays to evaluate your jaws, joint, and teeth carefully. If diagnosed, there are a few treatment options:

At-Home Relief:

  • Take an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Apply ice and heat packs while doing some slow jaw exercises
  • Avoid chewy foods or hard candies and stick to softer items
  • Try some relaxation techniques to alleviate stress in the jaw

Traditional Treatments

Depending on the nature issue, your dentist may recommend treatment to correct the root of the problem. Crowns, bridges or braces can correct a bite or alignment issue. He may also suggest a nightguard (nighttime wear) or a splint (all-day wear) to alleviate stress from clenching or biting, which will also help the teeth align more correctly.

Think you may have TMD? Don’t wait. Take note of your TMD symptoms and talk to your dentist. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have as well. Give us a call at (847) 831-1100 or email us at office@goldberg-ortho.com

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