“Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a condition characterized by a variety of different symptoms that affect the temporomandibular joint, one of the body’s most complex joints,” said the Doctor at Midlothian Family Clinic. The human body has to of these joints located on opposite sides of the upper part of the lower jawbone. These are the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull and function with a sliding hinge-like movement. It is these joints that allow us to move our lower jaw up and down, sideways and from back to front, giving us the ability to move our jaw, speak, chew and swallow food.
The experts at Carus Dental went on to explain, “When there are disorders to the joint, the surrounding muscles, bone or nerves, we might experience soreness, a significant clicking noise and even pain. This is especially noticeable when chewing or moving the lower jaw. This pain can manifest itself as facial pain, jaw pain, neck pain, severe tooth aches, headaches or ear ache.”
Medical professionals at Midlothian estimate that there are currently more than 10 million Americans who experience some form of TMD, and that the condition affects more women than men. Although there are some people who develop long-term discomfort, in most cases, it is only a temporary condition and the pain disappears after a few weeks.
What Causes Temporomandibular Disorder?
As per Carus Dental, “The exact cause of TMD varies as it is often a combination of factors that correlate to hormonal, behavioral or genetic conditions. It can also be associated with arthritis, injury to the jaw, past orthodontic treatment, connective tissue disease and autoimmune diseases. People who have experienced head and neck surgery or treatment for other conditions such as the removal of tumors can also suffer from TMD.”
Possible Symptoms of TMD
Symptoms vary from person to person, however, people who suffer from the following symptoms might be affected by Temporomandibular Disorder.
- Severe headaches
- Facial pain
- Jaw clicking or a feeling of slight jaw misalignment
- Temporary Toothaches
- Lower jaw ache
- Ear aches
- Sore throat
- Difficulty in chewing and swallowing
Concerns Expressed by Midlothian Family & Carus Dental
Although TMD is not a life-threatening disorder, the condition can lead to other significant health problems like severe weight loss and the inability to continue with a normal life style due to pain.
There is TreatmentSay experts at MFD
If you suffer from TMD, the following tips can help relieve the pain in your mandibular joint.
- Eat soft foods. Avoid hard or crunchy foods as these can intensify the pain. Dentists recommend you avoid foods that are hard and difficult to chew. Switch to softer foods like yogurt, soft cheese, soft bread, pureed fruits and vegetables and other similar foods.
- Avoid extreme jaw movements. Prevent yawning and avoid chewing gum.
- Use a pain reliever. An over-the-counter or prescription pain medication can offer relief from this temporary jaw pain.
- Apply ice packs to the outer jaw and facial area. This will relieve inflammation and diminish the pain.
- Watch for night jaw grinding or hard biting on teeth. If you think you might have a night jaw clenching or grinding problem, visit your dentist to get treatment for your bruxism or teeth clenching problem. This will diminish the TMD issue.
If the condition is persistent and severe, talk to your dentist about dental splints or as a last resort surgical treatment. Note that the pain associated with TMD is often only temporary and can be relieved at home or with a simple prescribed pain management treatment. However, if the pain persists, you should visit your dentist as new technology allows for effective treatment of the condition. Note that TMD could also signal other oral health issues such as Bruxism (teeth clenching.) Consider surgery only as a last resort to be used after other measures fail.