TMD Learning Center
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Are you experiencing headaches, ringing in the ears, neck pain, popping in the jaw? The problem may lie in the alignment of the jaw and the muscles involved. This syndrome is known by several names such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome) and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), and affects millions of Americans every year! Your TMJ is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This joint allows you to comfortably move your jaw. When working correctly, you are able to perform simple tasks such as yawning, speaking, and eating without any pain. When this joint is misaligned then it can’t function properly, creating jaw pain and other discomforts! If you think you may have TMD, call us today to set up a consultation. Your dentist can determine if you have TMD and help set up a treatment plan!
What is TMD?
The TMJ connects the jawbone to the skull and works like a moving hinge. When this connection is out of place or dysfunctions, stress in the muscles may radiate throughout the head, neck, and even involve the back. The pain may be constant or intermittent, lasting minutes, hours, days, or even years. Many patients describe the pain as a migraine headache and even experience ringing in the ears (tinnitus). To combat TMD, treatment can be given that will get your joint functioning properly again.
Who does TMD affect?
TMD most commonly affects adults 19 and older, although TMD can affect teens and children as well. Women report more pain from TMD while men experience much or more damage to the teeth, gums, bones and joints.
How is TMD treated?
During your dental visit, your dentist can determine the treatment that is best for you. Typically, treatment of TMD includes self-care, therapy, medication and the use of devices such as a mouthguard or bite guard. If these methods don’t work, other treatment options include occlusal correction or coronoplasty, constructing an orthotic to orthopedically align the lower jaw to the cranium,. The key to treating TMD, is getting the muscles out of spasm, relaxed and happy.
What are the most common symptoms of TMD?
Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Facial pain
- Jaw joint pain
- Back, Neck, cervical pain
- Headaches (tension type)
- Pain in the occipital (back), temporal (side), frontal (front), or sub-orbital (below the eyes)
- Tinnitus, ear pain, and ear congestion feelings
What are other signs of TMD?
Other symptoms include difficulty chewing, toothache, joint clicking, joint tenderness, joint locking and muscle spasms. Teeth sensitivities and aches, ear congestion feelings, pain behind the eyes, tingling in the arms and fingers, dizziness, etc., all relate to the dental aspect of TMD. Many of these symptoms are related to and are associated with the living tissues that affect the mandibular position and in turn affect upper to lower teeth relationships and vice versa.
What causes TMD?
There are a number of things that can cause TMD, but in most cases TMD disorders stem from a condition called malocclusion, meaning that your upper and lower teeth do not close together in the correct way. When teeth are misaligned, they cannot provide the support the muscles in the face need for chewing and swallowing. These muscles are then forced into a strained position, resulting in pain throughout the face, head, arms, shoulders, and back.
What should I do if I have symptoms of TMD?
The best thing to do is call your dentist! Getting a professional opinion and finding out the best treatment is a great first step. TMD left untreated can lead to much discomfort such as frequent headaches, difficulty chewing and ear pain.
Is TMD causing my headaches?
While there are many factors that could result in a headache, TMD can certainly be one of them. More commonly, patients suffer from tension headaches which are simply (as the name implies) muscles that are tense and in spasm, causing pain. Muscles can tense and spasm with overuse, improper posture, skeletal misalignments and improper function of the movable parts of the body. TMD usually causes you to tightly clench your jaw and that stress and pressure you put on the jaw bone can promote this type of headache.
Can I test myself for TMD disorders?
Simple tests include checking your posture and the mobility of your neck. You can also check your jaw placement and the state of your teeth. However, if you feel like you might have TMD, we strongly recommend that you visit a professional and let them have the final say.