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jaw-painTemporomandibular disorder, TMD, is a dental condition characteristic with pain in the region of the ear, jaw, or facial muscles. Most times, these pain occur in conjunction with a clicking/popping movement or a difficulty in moving the jaws. This should not be confused with TMJ, which is Temporomandibular joint. So while you definitely have a TMJ (two of them in fact), you may or may not have TMD.

Therefore, TMD includes cases of TMJ with symptoms that are not straightforward to decipher. However, you must realize that simple home remedies can help to cure cases of TMD. Anyway, if the symptoms persist, then, you can result to bridgework or dental surgery.

The two TMJs link the lower jaw and mandible to the temporal bone of the skull on both sides. They are complicated bones that provide a ball and socket movement between the lower jaw and temporal bone. A paddling disk occurs between these joints, and TMD can result from the discs, muscles, or joints. Whenever you experience any discomfort in these areas, or you experience difficulty opening or moving your jaws, then, you have to consult a dentist for a comprehensive examination.

What are the causes of TMD?


TMD arises as a result of inflammation, strained muscles, tendons or ligaments together with damage to the disk connecting the jaw and temporal bone. Moreover, our genes play a role in the development of TMD, while studies have also shown that women are more prone to TMD than men. Another contributing factor is stress. However, there are cases where the pain experienced in the jaw is linked to pain mediated illness such as “fibromyalgia” ( characteristics of strain on the muscles or connecting tissues)

What are the symptoms of TMD?

Clicking Sounds— Individuals who develop TMD are likely to experience a tick, click, or pop whenever they open and close the mouth. The irregular movement of the disk in the joint causes this state. Sometimes the sound can be so apparent to people around you. Although clicking is not a substantial symptom, studies have shown that whenever it occurs with pains or discomfort, then, it is probably TMD. Also, in some cases, it can occur along with the jaw being “stuck” while sufferers try to open or close the mouth.

tmd-pain-cycleMuscle Pain— This is commonly experienced in the masseter and temporalis muscles, or cheeks and temples, that control the closing of the jaws. You feel it whenever you wake up in the morning, and it can be aggravated if you’re used to grinding or gnashing your teeth while sleeping. In such condition, you can get a customized night guard to provide a cushioning effect to your teeth. It will reduce the pressure exerted by the muscles on the jaws.

Joint Pain — Pains that involve any joint in the body is referred to as arthritis. Radiographic studies have shown that some people have an inflammation of the TMJ but do not experience any pain or discomfort. In contrast, some experience these jaw-joint pains but there are no signs of inflammation of the joint. So, it is appropriate to consult a dentist to diagnose the cause of the condition accurately.

How to Relieve TMD / TMJ Pain

Once you have been diagnosed by a dentist with TMD, we will develop a strategy for treatment for your condition, as well as a plan to manage the pain you’re experiencing. This might include a change in diet to softer foods to reduce stress of the muscles and joints in your jaw. Ice and heat can often reduce soreness and inflamation, as well as over the counter medications. Always consult the dentist before treating this condition.

Other TMD Treatments

TMD diagnoses that are more severe might require a more complex treatment, like orthodontics, dental restorations like bridgework, or cortisone injections to relive the joints.

Are you suffering from jaw pain or experiencing a clicking in the jaw? You might have TMD and will need treatment for relief. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Carol Felder, Family Dentist in Norwalk, CT.

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