What Is A Temporomandibular Disorder? And How Is It Treated?

Posted on: 12 November 2014

The term temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is a term that refers to a group of issues that are related to muscular pain, or temporomandibular (jaw) joint inflammation. These conditions are relatively common throughout the United States. Because they are so common, and they are often not medically managed, it can be helpful for individuals who understand the signs and symptoms of the condition to get them examined.

Who Experiences TMDs?

A TMD is most common in individuals between the ages of twenty and forty. They are also more common in individuals who eat chewy or hard foods, as well as those who clench their teeth, hold tension in their chewing muscles, chew gum frequently, or yawn very wide.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A TMD?

Because TMD refers to a pair of conditions related to the jaw, the signs and symptoms can vary. However, some of the most commonly experienced signs and symptoms of a TMD include:

  • Catching or locking of the jaw
  • Pain in the jaw or the temple of the head
  • Stiffness in the jaw
  • Reduced range of motion of the jaw, such as opening the mouth
  • Dislocation of the temporomandibular joint
  • Clicking, popping, or cracking of the jaw with movement

What Can Contribute to Jaw Pain From a TMD?

There are many factors that can contribute to the symptoms of a TMD. Many of these factors can easily be changed, so it is important that individuals with jaw pain recognize some of the most common lifestyle factors that can contribute to the pain. These perpetuating factors include,

  • Gum chewing
  • Clenching of the jaw
  • Neck pain, since some neck pain can refer to the jaw region
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • High levels of stress for an extended period of time
  • Aggravations and frustrations
  • Depression
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Poor posture
  • Widespread pain

Although not all of these factors can be addressed by the individual themselves, many of these factors can be treated by a well-trained physical therapist or other health care practitioner with expertise in TMDs.

Why Should You Get Your Jaw Examined?

Although most cases of pain in and around the jaw are related to a TMD, there are actually several conditions that can cause the same symptoms. For example, an infection, giant cell arteritis, and meningitis can all cause symptoms similar to a TMD. As a result, it is important to see a dental care professional with expertise in treating TMDs. This can help confirm if the issue is related to a mechanical problem in the jaw, or an underlying medical condition that must be addressed by a physician.

For more information, contact a business such as Crest Hill Family Dental.