• Understanding TMD: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

    Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are often incorrectly referred to as TMJ which is just an abbreviation for the hinge joint that connects the jaw to the skull, the temporomandibular joint. TMD, on the other hand, is the abbreviation for the actual disorder causing pain and discomfort in the jaw, which occurs as a result of problems with the temporomandibular joint and surrounding facial tissue.

    TMD Causes

    TMD is suspected to be caused by a number of issues, though the exact cause is unclear. It most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40 and the symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to years. The disorder arises from problems with the temporomandibular joint including:

    • Injury to the jaw
    • Grinding teeth (especially at night)
    • Movement or dislocation of the soft cushion between the ball and socket of the joint
    • Stress, which causes tightening of facial muscles and clenching
    • Arthritis in the joint (generally osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis)


    TMD Symptoms

    The main symptom of TMD that many people come to the dentist complaining of is jaw pain. Inflammation in the jaw joint, caused by any one of the problems listed above, can cause mild pain in some and severe pain in others. TMD can affect one side of your face more than the other, or both sides equally and the pain can be anywhere from the joint itself, to in and around the ear, and down your neck to your shoulders.

    TMD can also cause difficulties and pain with opening your mouth wide and for some it causes the jaw to lock in the open or closed position.

    It can also cause popping sounds in the jaw when you open and close your mouth or chew. This is typically asymptomatic, but can be very distracting. Also, it can cause difficulties chewing, a general tired feeling in the face, and swelling of the area around the jaw.

    In severe cases, TMD can cause headaches, earaches, and sometimes tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

    TMD Treatments

    Unfortunately, there are no cures for TMD, but there are treatments that can help you ease the symptoms of the disorder.

    • Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve the pain of TMD. Your dentist can also prescribe higher doses of these drugs or a muscle relaxer if the problem stems from clenching or grinding your teeth at night.
    • Bite guards and splints are plastic mouthpieces that fit on your bottom or top teeth and protect you from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. Your dentist can help you decide what is right for you and have you fitted for one.
    • Applying moist heat or cold to the jaw area can relax the muscles and dull the pain.
    • In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to resolve severe symptoms of TMD, but it is a last resort and needs to be a decision made after much discussion with your dentist and oral surgeon.
    • There are many other home remedies and treatments that your dentist can recommend to resolve the symptoms of TMD.


    TMD Treatments in Gainesville, GA

    At Hawkins Family Dental, we’ll discuss your symptoms with you and recommend treatments for your TMD if needed. Our warm and friendly staff and team of dentists in Gainesville, GA can provide help and relief for patients with TMD. Don’t suffer the symptoms any longer, come to Hawkins Family Dental to find the ideal solution for your jaw pain and discomfort.

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