The Signs and Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a fairly common problem involving something called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is a complicated joint combining both a sliding and hinge motion.
Thankfully, for most patients, this type of joint movement is smooth due to the cartilage covering parts of the bone interacting together.
This shock-absorbing disc is present to ensure that the bones remain separated when moving. Unfortunately, some people will experience damage to this cartilage or disc that may lead to painful TMD.
TMD is definitely not any fun, as anyone dealing with it will attest.
If you notice any of the symptoms below, you may be dealing with TMD:
- Tired facial muscles
- Changes to facial expression
- Pain when chewing
- Jaw stiffness or pain
- Headaches or earaches
- Tenderness or pain in the area of the jaw, neck and ears
- The sound of clicking, grating, or popping in the jaw
- A change in your bite
- Difficulty fully opening or closing your jaw, and reduced range of motion
Diagnosing TMD can be notoriously difficult for some patients, since it involves so many parts of the face and related structures.
Sufferers often consult their doctor or dentist when they experience related symptoms, but they may not realize they are actually due to TMD.
It can help to understand what increases your risk of developing TMD.
Conditions that may contribute to TMD include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
- Chronically clenching or grinding your teeth
- Malocclusion and differences in bone and soft tissue growth
- Trauma or a recent jaw injury
If you are dealing with any of the above signs and symptoms, it's probably a good idea to get it checked out, particularly if you are experiencing pain and discomfort. Although TMD symptoms can mimic those of conditions like arthritis, and gout we would still like to examine you to get to the bottom of it and help relieve any pain or discomfort.
TMD is normally diagnosed after a comprehensive physical examination of the jaw. A diagnosis may also involve the use of an MRI or CT scan and range of motion analysis.
The symptoms of TMD can often be relieved at home, at least temporarily. If you are only experiencing minor symptoms, you may try applying a cold or hot compress, as well as begin taking an anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen.
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Left untreated, it is unlikely that TMD will resolve itself on its own. Without receiving some type of intervention or treatment, TMD symptoms can worsen over time and have a negative impact upon your well-being.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that you suspect may be caused by TMD, feel free to contact our office today to request additional information or to schedule an appointment or consultation.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik