Understanding TMD

Pain in the jaw, headaches, and tooth ache are all symptoms of TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder.  Although the three are seemingly different conditions they are all clues to issues with the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). To help patients understand why the TMJ can cause pain let us discuss what it does and how it works. The TMJ joint is located in front of your ears and it is stabilized by ligaments and moved by muscles. When you have TMD it means that there are problems inside the TMJ and the muscles attached to it. Although most people are familiar with the term TMJ you will hear more professionals mention TMD as it explains there is a disorder.

The pain in the TMJ is caused when any of the surrounding structures in the jaw system have a problem. This may include problems with the teeth, sinuses, and even neck and back muscles that share nerves with the joint structure. When the problem arises you feel it in the form of pain due to the nerves sending signals through the body. Commonly this is caused by the muscles of the TMJ going into spasm and limiting your ability to open your mouth and even eat normally.

Research has shown a connection between TMD and stress in that patients who exhibit levels of stress may be more prone to grinding or clenching their teeth. The pains of TMD may come and go depending on the level of stress a person is experiencing at any given time. Stress that causes clenching and grinding of the teeth puts high forces on the joints and muscles which can result in TMJ pain.

Generally TMD can be treated with a conservative bite guard or other form of appliance therapy. Others may include patient education, heat, mild painkillers, muscle relaxants, soft diet and simple jaw exercises. Most patients don’t require a bite adjustment procedure to remedy the pains of TMD. At Advanced Dental we recommend a thorough dental evaluation so that Dr. Maroon can evaluate you for the cause of your TMJ pain and help you treat it. For more information please contact us today..