When those joints don’t function properly, you experience TMD. Temporomandibular dysfunction describes a pathologic, diseased joint which results in painful symptoms.
Common indications of TMD include clicking or popping noises from movement of the jaw, sore or tender jaw muscles, headaches, earaches, discomfort in the neck and shoulders, limited range of mouth motion, and difficulty in biting and chewing. The symptoms may be mild or severe, but if you suffer from TMJ, you know that it is literally a pain in the neck – and face and mouth and ears.
TMD is usually caused by bruxism (grinding your teeth), misaligned teeth, recent trauma to the jaw, or degenerative disease. Therefore, it may develop gradually, or manifest quickly. It can be aggravated by stress, chewing gum, eating hard foods – even chewing your nails. Treating TMD requires a thorough diagnosis and discovery of the underlying causes of the dysfunction, so that it can be properly treated.
Your treatment options may include:
- A rigid, comfortable night guard to minimize the effects of nightly teeth grinding
- Orthodontics to straighten serious misalignment
- Restoration of dental problems to ensure a healthy bite
- Stress control techniques such as massage, meditation, and yoga
- Over-the-counter and prescription-strength medications to provide relief for the immediate symptoms
- Chiropractic alignment
- Surgery to reposition the joints or replace them, only in the most severe cases