Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) refers to a group of related disorders that result from problems with the jaw or jaw joint, or facial muscles involved in jaw movement. TMD can cause discomfort and pain that may be constant or intermittent. These disorders are often incorrectly referred to as TMJ, which refers only to the temporomandibular joint itself.
What Are The Symptoms Of TMD?
- Chronic facial pain in the face, jaw, neck and shoulders
- Chronic facial pain in or around the ear
- Limited ability to open the mouth wide
- Difficulty chewing
- Uncomfortable bite
- Swelling on one or both sides of the face
- Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
- Headaches and neck aches
These symptoms may arise from any number of easily identifiable and treatable causes, including sinus infections, tooth decay or gum disease.
What Are The Causes Of TMD?
Although there are many causes of TMD, common ones include:
- Trauma to the head or neck
- Oral habits such as clenching or grinding of the teeth
- “Bad” bite or missing teeth
- Malalignment of the upper and lower jaws
Is There Treatment For TMD?
Yes, although treatments have different effects on different people. Some of the treatments may include:
- Stress-reduction exercises
- Muscle relaxants
- Low-level-laser therapy
- Mouth protectors to prevent-teeth grinding
- Change in diet to soft foods
- Heat/ice packs
- Avoidance of extreme jaw movements
More extensive corrective treatments may take the form of surgery or injections for pain relief. Surgery for TMD may include arthroscopy or open-joint surgery.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or teeth-grinding, occurs when the jaws are clenched and the teeth grind against one another. Stress and anxiety are often blamed, but sleep disorders, abnormal bite, and missing or crooked teeth may also be causes. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to headaches, a sore jaw, or painful, loose or fractured teeth. It may sometimes lead to TMD.