The joint or hinge connecting the jaw to the bones on your skull, known as the temporal bones, are located in front of your ears and allow you to move your jaw from side to side and up and down. Known as TMJ, these joints also allow you to yawn, chew, and talk.
WebMD explains that TMD or temporomandibular disorders, sometimes wrongly referred to as TMJ, which is an abbreviation of the joint, can be painful and although there is no known cause of TMD doctors and dentists believe that TMD could be caused by joint problems or problems with your jaw muscles.
Other causes of TMD include:
- Tooth clenching or grinding
- Arthritis in your jaw
- Stress causing your jaw and facial muscles to tighten
- Abnormal movement between the disc or soft cushion and the ball socket of the TMJ
- A blow to the TMJ, the jaw or the head or neck muscles
TMD symptoms can cause you severe discomfort and pain. Some TMD symptoms can last for years or be temporary. TMD could affect both or only one side of the face. According to your dentist, TMD affects more women aged between 20 and 40.
Some of the more common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Face or neck and shoulders pain or tenderness
- Pain or tenderness in the TMJ
- Problems opening your mouth
- Jaws that locks or get stuck when closed or open
- Popping, clicking, or grating in the TMJ when you chew or open and close your mouth
- Feeling tired in your face
- Problems chewing
- Problems with your teeth not fitting together
- Facial swelling
- Neck aches
- Earaches and hearing problems
- Tinnitus or ringing in your ears
- Pain in your upper shoulders
TMD can be difficult to diagnose as other problems, such as sinus issues, gum disease, arthritis or tooth decay could be to blame. To find out the root cause, your dentist will give your teeth and gums a thorough examination and enquire about your health history. Your dentist will also check your TMJ for tenderness or pain while listening for any grating, popping or clicking sounds upon movement. Your dentist will also take x-rays and digital photos to rule out any tooth problems.
If you are diagnosed with TMD, your dentist may recommend:
- Pain modification with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Moist heat
- Relaxation techniques such as biofeedback or meditation for stress
- A custom-made mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding while sleeping
- Tooth alignment correction such as orthodontic treatment
If you believe that you may be suffering from TMD, call or click and schedule an appointment with your dentist who can determine if you are having problems with your temporomandibular joints. Call or click today.