Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) pertain to a variety of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), jaw muscles and facial nerves. TMJ are the jaw and joint muscles located on each side of the head. They are responsible for opening and closing the mouth so you can speak, chew or swallow food. The TMJ also controls the lower jaw so it can move forward, backward and side to side.

The Common Symptoms of TMD are:

  • limitation when trying to open the mouth wide
  • soreness in the jaw joints area and muscles
  • discomfort in or around the ear  
  • head, neck and ear aches
  • jaw discomfort or tenderness that is more predominant in the morning or late afternoon
  • pain in the jaw when biting, chewing or yawning
  • difficulty in opening and closing the mouth
  • popping or clicking sounds when opening the mouth
  • puffiness on the side of the face
  • jaw that get “lock” in the closed- or open-mouth position
  • dizziness, hearing problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), upper shoulder pain
  • sensitive teeth even in the absence of any dental problems
  • toothache

Probable Causes of TMD

  • improper alignment of the tooth and jaw  
  • dislocation of the jaw
  • stress
  • bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching)
  • improper bite
  • injury
  • arthritis
  • arduous physical tasks like lifting a heavy object

Treatment of TMD

Diagnosis is essential before starting any treatment. Your dentist will check your joints and muscles for any signs of soreness, popping or clicking, locking, limited range of motion and inspect your bite. Panoramic x-rays may be taken. Your dentist may refer you to a maxillofacial surgeon (oral surgeon for treatment depending on your symptoms. See a dentist immediately if you feel any of the symptoms stated above.

Your dentist or maxillofacial surgeon may advised any of the following :

  • a night guard or splint
  • corrective treatment of teeth
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • trigger-point injections
  • other forms of treatment

Surgery is your last option. Make sure to seek 2 or 3 professional opinions first before submitting yourself to surgery, as it is irreversible.

TMD, if left untreated, can lead to other more significant health issues, such as:

  • poor dental health
  • lack of sleep, due to bruxism
  • long-lasting headaches
  • hearing problems
  • eating disorders or malnutrition

Visit Dr. James Voyles in Hilliard if you suspect of having TMD.