About TMD

TMD (temporomandibular disorders) are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Our doctors can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.

Problems with your Temporomandibular Joint?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the cushion of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes,” the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

TMJ Symptoms

Below are a few symptoms that can help determine whether or not you suffer from TMJ:

  • Headaches: sometimes of migraine proportions.
  • Ear pain symptoms: ringing in the ears, hearing loss, “plugged” ears, ear pain, a feeling of “under water”
  • Clicking: There is a pad or disc which ideally sits between the temporal bone and mandible in the TM Joint. This cushion, like a magic carpet, can slip out of place causing clicking when opening and closing. Clicking can lead to locking and grating or crepitus.
  • Locking: When a disc is chronically displaced, it does not always click back into place. This leads to locking of the jaw joint with deflection of the jaw and limited range of motion.
  • Popping: Some clicking can be staccato or popping by nature.
  • Jaw Pain: Although it can originate from many sources, the most common reason for jaw pain is dental, then musculoskeletal. Most dentists can rule out dental decay, periodontal disease or root canal as the offending dental pathology. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and the temporomandibular joint can all cause jaw pain. Jaw pain can radiate from the neck.

Possible Causes of TMJ:

  • Bruxism: A  movement disorder which occurs during sleep can overload the TMJ as a repetitive strain type injury and also aggravate muscle pain.
  • Estrogen : Adolescent girls can experience idiopathic or internal condylar resorption. Perimenopausal women also frequently complain of TMJ sensitivity and bite changes secondary to the presence of estrogen receptors in the TMJ.
  • Autoimmune: Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, Sjogrens, Reiters syndrome, and seronegative arthritis can be responsible for jaw pain and bite changes
  • Joint laxity: Elongated ligaments allow the disc to easily slip out of position.
  • Trauma: Macrotrauma, bad falls, blows to the chin, intubation and wisdom tooth extraction can all lead to joint strain or sprain.
  • Sleep: Lack of stage 3 and 4 NREM sleep can lead to overall or widespread pain and fatigue. Healing occurs with 7-8 hours of deep restorative sleep.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis can be localized as an osteo or traumatic arthritis, or systemic as an auto immune disease. With this, you can also experience inflammation. Inflammation may be localized