What to Do About TMD
What to Do About TMD
About 5 to 12 percent of people suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as TMD according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
What are the temporomandibular joints?
Located on each side of your face, the temporomandibular joints connect your lower jaw to your skull. These joints and their accompanying muscles allow you to open and close your mouth, and to move your lower jaw from side to side. You can feel these joints in front of your ears and opening your mouth.
What is TMD?
TMD occurs when the temporomandibular joint is damaged or deteriorated, or when the muscles surrounding the joint malfunctions, causing imbalanced jaw movement. The chronic muscle pain and spasms associated with this condition often can be quite painful.
What cases TMD?
In many cases, the cause of the disorder is unknown. However, TMD may be caused by trauma, such as an injury of dislocation, or an improper bite which affects the chewing muscles. Stress and its related behaviors, like clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, may aggravate the condition. TMD appears to be common in woman than men, though there is no consensus as to why that might be.
How do I know if I have TMD?
-Jaw pain or soreness that is more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
-Jaw pain associated with chewing, biting, or yawning
-Clicking noise when opening and closing your mouth
-Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
-Locking or stiffness of the jaw when talking, yawning, or eating
-Tooth sensitivity not associated with dental problems
-Headache or neck pain
-An earache not associated with an ear infection
If you experience any of these systems, contact your general dentist. He/she may be able to conduct and examination checking the joints and muscles in your jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving. Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may refer you to a specialist.
How is TMD treated?
Many cases can be treated with simple lifestyle changes.
-Avoid chewing gum and biting your nails
-Taking non-aspirin pain relievers or using heat packs to manage pain
-Eating soft foods
-Practicing relaxation or stress relief techniques
In more severe cases, your dentist may recommend physical therapy, appliance therapy, or medication.
Is TMD permanent?
TMD is often a cyclical condition that can recur during times of stress. If you have this disorder, see your dentist for regular checkups so that he or she can monitor your symptoms and manage your care.