What is TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJD, and incorrectly TMJ) involve pain or discomfort in or around the ear, jaw joint (TMJ), and/or muscles of the jaw, face, temples, and neck. The symptoms may begin suddenly and fluctuate in intensity and frequency over months or years.
TMD sufferers usually experience more than one symptom, making the causes unclear. Although not scientifically proven, TMD is believed to be caused or related to the presence of a combination of factors, including:
- Jaw injuries
- Clenching and grinding
- Gum chewing and nail biting
- Major malocclusion (abnormal bite)
- Stress, anxiety, or depression
- Controlled substance abuse
TMD can be chronic. “The most successful and scientifically supported treatments focus on self-management and control of the aggravating factors.” – American Academy of Orofacial Pain
Types of TMD
Muscle related TMD (Myogenous) is usually caused by overworked, fatigued, or tense muscles in the jaw and surrounding areas. This can cause jaw aches, headaches, and neck aches. It is quite common for painful muscles to refer pain to other locations in the face and jaw.
Jaw joint generated TMD (Arthrogenous) is usually caused by inflamed, diseased, or degenerating hard or soft tissues within the Temporomandibular Joint.
Internal Derangement – Displaced disc in the temporomandibular joint
- Pain and/or clicking in the jaw joints, especially with movement
- Earaches, ringing in the ears, and sensation of hearing loss
- Loud and/or painful clicking or popping noises with jaw movement
- Limited jaw movement
- Periodic or permanently locked jaw
Arthritis – A group of degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the TMJ. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results in wearing down of the bone and cartilage.
- Pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint is the most common symptom
- Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Painful sounds or grating in the jaw joint
- A change in how the upper and lower jaw fit together
Capsulitis – Inflamed capsular ligament (connecting lower jaw to the upper) that causes pain even in rest.
- Physical therapy
- Orthotics (bite guards)
- Medication therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy/stress management