Approximately 5-12 percent of people suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as temporomandibular disorder(TMD), which describes a variety of conditions affecting the joints, muscles, and nerves in the jaw.
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 side to side. You can feel these joints by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth.
TMD occurs when the temporomandibular joint is damage or deteriorated, or when the muscles surrounding the joint malfunction, causing imbalanced jaw movement. The chronic muscle pain and spasms associated with this condition often can be quite painful.
In many cases, the cause of the disorder is unknown. However, TMD may be caused by trauma, such as injury or dislocation, or an improper bite, which affects the chewing muscles. Stress and its related behavior, like clenching and grinding, may aggravate the condition.
Those with TMD may experience the following symptoms on one or both sides of the face:
- Jaw pain or soreness that is more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
- Jaw pain associated with chewing, biting or yawning
- Clicking, popping or grating noises when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Locking or stiffness of jaw when talking, yawning or eating
- Tooth sensitivity not associated with dental problems
- Headaches- recurring or chronic
- An earache not associated with an ear infection
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Facial pain
- Dizziness or pain or difficulty chewing or swallowing
If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to us today. We can perform an examination, checking the joints and muscles of your jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping and difficulty moving. We will perform a JVA Quick to help determine your level of joint health. CBCT and MRI are sometimes needed to help determine your diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, we may refer you to a specialist.
Many TMD cases can be handles with simple lifestyle modification, including:
- Avoiding chewing gum, ice, hard foods and biting your nails
- Taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Using heat packs to manage pain
- Eating soft food
- Practicing relaxation and stress relief techniques
In more severe cases, we may recommend appliance therapy, MLS cold laser therapy, physical therapy, or stronger medications.
TMD is often a cyclical condition that can secure during times of stress.
85% of people with TMJ damage do not need any treatment. You can have a damaged TMJ and not have pain. In fact, a majority (70%) of damaged joints adapt favorably over time without therapy. However 30% of damaged TMJ do not adapt favorably, and a few (3%) will have serious problems including chronic pain and facial deformity.