When we talk about TMD, were referring to temporomandibular joint disorder. It also refers to a group of disorders that all stem from issues tied to the jaw, the jaw joints, or the facial muscles tied to movement. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) refers specifically to the small joints located in front of the ear and connects the jaw to the skull. It’s what allows the jaw to make complex movements and function properly. Whenever you talk, chew, or swallow, the TMJ is being used. If any condition prevents these muscles, ligaments, and bones from functioning correctly, it could be due to TMD.
TMDS can be put into three different categories.
When you have myofascial pain in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint, it could be a muscle disorder that’s causing the pain or discomfort. This is by far the most common form of TMD.
If you have a joint-derangement disorder, keep in mind that the disorder is structural, rather than muscular. If you suffered an injury to the lower jaw, wear and tear to the joint as a result of untreated bruxism, or experience excessive jaw movements, it can cause this condition. You can also experience structural issues from a severe malocclusion or dislocation/displacement of the articular disc.
When a joint is overused or aging, it can begin to degenerate or inflame. While it could be due to osteoarthritis, it could also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or a perforated TMJ disc.
It’s also possible for a patient to experience one or more disorders simultaneously.
It’s not very clear what causes TMD, however, the symptoms are known to develop from problems with the jaw muscles or the jaw joints. It can be a result of many factors, including:
If you are constantly stressed, it can also play a role in the development of TMD. This is because it can tighten the jaw muscles and cause clenching of the teeth.
When you have a TMD, it can lead to constant or intermittent pain and discomfort. The most common symptoms include:
Your symptoms could be hardly noticeable, or they could be so severe that they are impossible to ignore. Keep in mind that the cause of these symptoms could be something other than TMD.
With a physical examination and a few tests, we can diagnose TMD. These tests include:
These tests are designed to rule out conditions that may also be causing the same symptoms. This way, we can obtain a clearer diagnosis of your potential TMD.
The treatment we prescribe will largely depend on the severity of your condition. We may offer:
If you require a more extensive treatment, injections might be used to provide pain relief. However, if nonsurgical treatments prove unsuccessful or the joint is damaged, surgery might be necessary. Surgery might include:
While TMD can be chronic, it can definitely be managed effectively when you have the right treatment plan.