As a very common disorder affecting more than 3 million individuals across the country, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is mostly characterized by pain in the jaw. Yet, there are numerous other signs and symptoms, depending on the severity of TMD. Medicine Net lists the following:
- Jaw clicking and popping
- Ear pain and earache
- Popping sounds in the ears
- Stiff or sore jaw muscles
- Pain in the temple area
- Locking of the jaw joint
To better understand TMD, which might be referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) in reference to the actual jaw joint, consider the anatomy of the of the jaw. First, the temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull. It is often compared to a sliding hinge that allows for smooth movement of the jaw when opening and closing, as well as eating and speaking. However, TMD develops when an injury or inflammation of the joint and the surrounding muscles occurs.
As such, there are many potential causes. Aside from an injury to the jaw, misalignment of the teeth could lead to TMD. Other causes include teeth grinding (Bruxism), poor posture, stress, arthritis and even chewing gum.
Because there is no specific test to determine if an individual has TMD, a doctor or dentist specializing in jaw disorders will consider a patient’s complete medical history, as well as the patient’s current symptoms. In some cases, an MRI might be necessary to detect trauma to the cartilage of the jaw joint to confirm the diagnosis. Even so, the good news regarding temporomandibular joint disorder is that patients have many options when it comes to treatment. Thus, the prognosis for those suffering from TMD is good.
Depending on the cause of TMD, at home remedies include placing ice packs on the jaw to reduce inflammation, as well as over the counter medications (NSAIDS). Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to eat soft foods and refrain from chewing gum, while gentle massaging of the jaw and neck area are also helpful. For more severe cases of TMD, dentists provide numerous therapies to reduce pain and strengthen jaw muscles.
Suffering From Jaw Pain? Call Grateful Dental Today!
Dr. Leia Porcaro of Grateful Dental in Marietta is a family-friendly dentist with a compassionate approach to patient care. If you are suffering from jaw pain, and you believe that it is related to TMD, call Grateful Dental today.