Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

What are the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)?

Simply stated, the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull. More specifically, they are the joints that slide and rotate in front of each ear, and consist of the mandible (the lower jaw) and the temporal bone (the side and base of the skull). According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the TMJs are among the most complex joints in the body. These joints, along with several muscles, allow the mandible to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back. When the mandible and the joints are properly aligned, smooth muscle actions, such as chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing, can take place. When these structures (muscles, ligaments, jaw bone, mandible, TMJ) are not aligned, nor synchronized in movement, several problems may occur.

What is temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and/or the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), classifies the categories of TMD by the following criteria:

A person can have one or more of these conditions at the same time.

What causes TMD?

Most oral health professionals will agree that the primary cause of this disorder is excessive strain on the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing, and speech. This strain may be a result of bruxism (incessant clenching of the teeth), or from physical or mental stress. These factors may be the cause, in most cases, or may aggravate an existing condition of TMD.

What are the symptoms of TMD?

The following are the most common symptoms of TMD. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of TMD may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a dentist or your physician for a diagnosis.

What are the treatments for TMD?

Specific treatment for TMD will be determined by your physician or dentist based on:

Treatment may include:

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