Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to a variety of conditions that affect Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ), jaw muscles and facial nerves. TMD may occur when the jaw twists during opening, closing or side-motion movements.

How Do I Know If I Have It / Symptoms?

TMD affects more than twice as many women as men and is the most common non-dental related chronic facial pain.

People with TMD may experience these symptoms:

  • Earaches, Headaches And Neck Aches
  • Jaw Pain Or Soreness That Is More Prevalent In The Morning Or Late Afternoon
  • Jaw Pain When Chewing, Biting Or Yawning
  • Clicking Noises When Opening The Mouth
  • Difficulty Opening And Closing The Mouth

What Can Happen If I Don't Get It Fixed, Left Untreated?

Generally, discomfort from jaw joint or muscle pain is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. Jaw pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.

What Are My Options, If Any?

Your dentist may also recommend one of the following:

  • Modifying the pain, or resting the joint, taking aspirin or ibuprofen, or applying moist heat to the painful areas
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, which may also help to manage stress, a common cause associated with TMD
  • Wearing a night guard to prevent your teeth from grinding during sleep
  • Correcting poorly aligned teeth, if recommended by your dentist

What Does The Procedure Look Like?

Diagnosis is the first and most important step before treatment. However, diagnosing TMD is not accurate because the exact causes of TMD are not clear, and there is no widely accepted, standard test to correctly identify TMD as of present. For most patients, your description of symptoms, combined with a simple physical examination of face and jaw, provides useful information for diagnosing TMD.

Your dentist may also see how your bite fits together by taking x-rays and making a cast of your teeth, or may request specialized x-rays for TMJ. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment that is needed for your unique TMD problems or refer you to a specialist. You may also be given additional self-care advice to assist with TMD-type symptoms.

What Is The Recovery Time?

Although recovery time from TMJ pain can vary depending on its severity, using proper self-practice of conservative treatments suggested by your dentist can help decrease pain in a faster amount of time.

Keep in mind that for most people, TMJ discomfort will eventually go away whether treated or not. Maintaining simple self-care practices, such as reducing teeth-clenching symptoms caused by stress, can assist greatly in easing discomfort from TMD.

If more treatment is necessary, it should be conservative and reversible. If at all possible, avoid treatments that cause irreversible changes in the bite or jaw. Any irreversible treatments that are recommended should be backed by a second opinion from another dentist.

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