TMD Basics

Woman Touching NeckDo you experience frequent headaches, popping sounds in your jaw, or chronic jaw pain? You may have TMD. Here’s what you should know.

What is the difference between TMD and TMJ?

On some occasions the terms TMD and TMJ are used interchangeably, which can be confusing. Although the terms are connected, they don’t quite mean the same thing. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, while TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorders.

What is TMD?

The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the rest of your skull and allows you to eat, talk, and move your mouth. TMD (or temporomandibular joint disorders) are problems with that specific joint.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Pain or tenderness round the jaw and near the ear
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Clicking, grinding, or popping sounds when you chew or talk
  • Trouble opening your mouth all the way
  • Tension in the shoulders, neck, and back
  • Dizziness
  • Misaligned teeth

If you notice these symptoms, you should contact your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. It may be wise to ask about being tested for sleep apnea, since many people with TMD also suffer from sleep apnea or other similar problems.

What causes TMD?

The causes of TMD are not always known, but TMD can be caused by:

  • Damage to the cartilage near the TMJ
  • Muscle fatigue and strain
  • Arthritis in the TMJ
  • Clenching the jaw
  • Subconsciously grinding your teeth
  • Damaged shock absorbing discs
  • Trauma to the joint as the result of an injury or car accident.

What treatment options are available?

Treatments for TMD vary depending on the needs of the patient. In some situations, TMD can go away over time; in other cases lifestyle changes that reduce stress may help with TMD.

Your dentist can also help treat TMD. At O’Brien Dental Care, special equipment is used to relax the jaw, face, and neck muscles. Then an evaluation will be made and a treatment plan will be created. This treatment often involves correcting alignment and making sure that the bite is correct.  If you’d like to learn more about treating TMD schedule an appointment today.

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