Do you ever experience pain in your jaw joint? You might have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is a common condition that can cause pain in the jaw joint and muscles, clicking or popping noises, and difficulty opening your mouth. While the cause of TMD is not always known, it is often associated with stress, tension, and other factors. The condition is common in adults from a wide range of backgrounds. TMD is thought to affect approximately 75 million people in the United States alone. If you think you have TMD, you need to visit a dentist specializing in conditions affecting the TMJ in Leander for diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes TMD?
A specific disease or disorder does not always cause TMD. However, it can be related to problems with the jaw joint, muscles, or teeth. Some of the most common causes of TMD include:
- stress and tension
- poor posture
- jaw injury or trauma
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
Signs of TMD
TMD mainly affects adults, and it can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of TMD include pain in the jaw joint or muscles. However, you can also experience a clicking or popping noise in the jaw joint due to the movement of the jawbones. Other less common symptoms of TMD include:
- unexplained earaches
- pain in the face, head, jaw, neck, shoulders, or back
- sensitivity to sound and light
- difficulty chewing or biting food on one side of your mouth
- problems opening your mouth fully (limited range of motion)
How is TMD Diagnosed?
Your dentist will likely ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical examination, which may include:
- checking the range of motion in your jaw joint
- palpating (touching) your jaw muscles to check for pain or tenderness
- checking for clicking or popping noises when you open and close your mouth
A dentist may also want to take X-rays or scans of your jaw joint as part of their diagnosis. These images can help the dentist rule out other conditions causing your symptoms.
How is TMD Treated?
In some cases, home care measures and over-the-counter pain relievers may relieve symptoms of TMD. Your doctor may also prescribe muscle relaxants or pain relievers.
An oral appliance is a custom-made device that fits over your teeth and jaw to help correct the position of your jaw joints and allow them to move more normally. You wear an oral appliance at night while you sleep. This helps ease symptoms and promote the proper function of the muscles in the jaw and neck, which can reduce TMD pain. In some cases, you might need to undergo a chiropractic jaw adjustment in order to correct the misaligned jaw.
Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation exercises can also help relieve stress and tension that may be aggravating your TMD symptoms.
If a problem with the jaw joint causes your TMD, your dentist may recommend surgery to correct the issue. This type of surgery is known as arthroscopy, and it involves inserting a small camera into the area to look at the structures inside. The surgeon will then repair or reposition any tissue, bone, or cartilage causing problems.
In summary, the specific cause of TMD remains unknown. The most common symptom is pain in the jaw joint or muscles.
A dentist can diagnose TMD based on your symptoms, medical history, and X-ray scans. Treatment includes OTC pain relievers, oral appliances, stress management, and surgery.