Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)
If you suffer from pain in your jaw during routine facial movements, such as smiling, chewing and speaking, it’s possible that you’re one of 40 million Americans suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder.
Commonly referred to as TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder is the displacement of your temporomandibular joint, the ball-and-socket joint that connects your lower jaw and skull. Since the temporomandibular joint affects even the most basic jaw movements, proper functionality is essential to your health and well-being.
What are the signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder?
If you’ve suffered from chronic migraines, earaches and/or neck pain, it’s possible that the root of your pain lies within a misaligned jaw. Other common symptoms are:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Painful and loose teeth
- Frequent jaw clicking, locking, or popping
- Pain behind your ears
- Morning headaches
- Constant ringing in your ears
What are the causes of temporomandibular joint disorder?
- Head trauma from a heavy contact sport or another source
- Car accident that caused you whiplash
- Clenching/grinding of your teeth (bruxism)
- Misaligned teeth
- Parafunctional habits
If your dentist suspects that you’re suffering from a displaced temporomandibular joint, you will have your bite evaluated through a molding and x-rays. This will demonstrate how your jaw and bite interact with each other.
While some dentists will provide a treatment plan of tooth modifications and/or orthodontics, coupled with at-home remedies like changing your dietary habits and limiting your jaw movement, all this does is reduce your pain. For some, this may be enough. However, for severe cases where splint appliance and other modifications were unsuccessful, the oral surgeon uses surgical solutions including: bite adjustment, arthroscopy, open joint repair restructuring and corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery). Physical therapy is another effective modality of treatment.