If you constantly experience pain in your jaw, in the muscles on the side of your face or in the area near your ear, accompanied by restricted jaw movement or a popping or clicking sound, you may be suffering from Temporomandibular disorder or TMD. It is a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and in the surrounding muscles as well.
The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body that works with a ball and socket mechanism, and a problem with any of the parts, muscles or the joint itself, could cause TMD. Genetic factors, age and gender (the disease is more common in women) also contribute to the occurrence of TMD.
Symptoms of TMD
- Muscle Pain: Pain is felt in the temples and cheeks, since the pairs of jaw closing muscles are located in these areas. The pain may be more upon waking up if you have the habit of grinding your teeth at night. You could opt for a dental mouth guard in such cases.
- Clicking Sounds: Some people suffering from TMD may hear a popping, clicking or grating sound coming from the joint when they open or close their mouth. This is caused when the disk in the joint shifts.
- Joint Pain: Pain coming from one or both jaw joints would be described as TMJ arthritis. You may have pain and TMJ dysfunction even if your TMJ does not appear to be arthritic in an X-Ray. The reverse is also true i.e. you may have pain and problems, but your TMJ may not be arthritic. Medication can be used to obtain relief.
If you are diagnosed with a mild form of TMD, some dietary changes such as avoidance of hard foods could help the joints relax. Pain can be managed by applying ice and muscle spasms can be treated with exercise. If the case of TMD is severe, then dental restorations such as bridgework, orthodontic treatments or minor surgical procedures inside the joint may need to be performed in order to provide relief.
The first step in the treatment of TMD is a dental examination. So if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, schedule a checkup at Dental Arts by calling (414) 214-0866.