Why Your Jaw Hurts: Understanding TMJ/TMD 101

Does your jaw hurt? If so, you may be suffering from a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMD is a disorder involving the large joint on either side of your lower jaw which connects the jaw to the skull. Since the condition involves these joints, TMJ is often — and mistakenly — referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Understanding TMJ/TMD 101

TMD can take many forms and can manifest itself as a wide array of symptoms which can range from mildly annoying to moderately painful. TMD can also cause difficulty in eating or speaking, and can affect the way in which the upper and lower teeth fit together.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

The most common problems caused by TMD include: mild to moderate pain that travels through the joint on each side of the jaw into the face, neck or head; painful clicking or popping when moving the lower jaw; stiff jaw muscles causing pain or difficulty in opening the mouth; painful locking of the jaw; limited jaw movement; headache or migraine; earache or “buzzing” in the ears; or even referred pain in other parts of the body such as the neck or back. These symptoms may also lead to difficulty eating or sleeping.

TMD has a number of possible causes, ranging from bruxism, or the grinding of teeth during sleep, to injury to the jaw, stress, or simple wear and tear on the jaw joint. TMD may also be caused by a number of ancillary medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.

For most patients, the disorder will come and go on its own, and can be helped by such things as over-the-counter pain relievers or by applying ice to the joint.

How to Treat TMD

However, for more serious and persistent cases, medical intervention is often needed. Usually, treatment may be as simple as basic lifestyle changes, or the addition of a bite guard to lessen the impact of the patient grinding their teeth in their sleep. In a very small percentage of cases, more direct medical attention may be required. This may include referral to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon for the surgical correction of TMD.

If you suffer from TMD, you should discuss your concerns with our experienced dentists and staff at Highland Oaks Family Dentistry. Relief from the pain and discomfort of this condition may be easier, and closer, than you think!

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Highland Oaks Family Dentistry

700 North Tarrant Pkwy, #102
Keller, TX 76248
(817) 402-2608