and treatments for temporomandibular disorders
the Temporomandibular Joint?
temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that slides and rotates just in
front of your ear, consisting of the temporal bone (side and base
of the skull) and the mandible (lower jaw). Mastication (chewing)
muscles connect the lower jaw to the skull, allowing you to move your jaw
forward, sideways, and open and close.
joint works properly when the lower jaw (mandible) and its joint (both
the right and left) are synchronized during movement. Temporomandibular
Disorder (TMD) may occur when the jaw twists during opening, closing or
side-motion movements. These movements affect the jaw joint and the muscles
that control chewing.
is Temporomandibular Disorder?
describes a variety of conditions that affect jaw muscles, temporomandibular
joints, and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Symptoms may occur
on one or both sides of the face, head or jaw, or develop after an injury.
TMD affects more than twice as many women than men and is the most
common non-dental related chronic orofacial pain.
function for this muscle group includes chewing, swallowing, speech and
communication. Most experts suggest that certain tasks, either mental
or physical, cause or aggravate TMD, such as strenuous physical tasks
or stressful situations. Most discomfort is caused from overuse of
the muscles, specifically clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism).
excessive habits tire the jaw muscles and lead to discomfort, such as
headaches or neck pain. Additionally, abnormal function can lead to worn
or sensitive teeth, traumatized soft tissues, muscle soreness, jaw
discomfort when eating, and temporal (side) headaches.
TMD symptoms can I experience?
I do to treat TMD?
without an infection
or soreness that is more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
when you chew, bite or yawn
when opening and closing your jaw
opening and closing your mouth
or stiff jaw when you talk, yawn, or eat
teeth when no dental problems can be found
majority of cases can be treated by unloading (resting) the joint,
taking a non-aspirin pain reliever and practicing stress management
and relaxation techniques. It's important to break bad habits to ease the
symptoms. Most treatment for TMD is simple, often can be done at home,
and does not need surgery. For example, control clenching or grinding
during the day by sticking your tongue between your teeth. If you still
experience pain, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night.
So see your dentist for a nighttime mouthguard.
people will experience relief with minor treatment. More severe cases
may be treated with physical therapy, ice and hot packs, posture training
and orthopedic appliance therapy (splint). Eating soft foods and avoiding
chewing gum also will help relax the muscles.
condition is often cyclical and may reoccur during times of stress,
good or bad. As the patient, you should be active in your treatment after
seeing a dentist for a diagnosis regime by being aware of the causes of
your jaw problems. Make routine dental appointments, so your doctor
can check TMD on a regular basis.
Joseph A. DDS, Charles McNeill, DDS, Harold T. Perry, DDS. Orofacial
Pain; Understanding Temporomandibular (TMJ) Disorders. Quintessence
Publishing Co., Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois. 1994.
Mac Edington, DDS, MAGD, ABGD.
Disorders, Bethesda, Maryland.
Tom, "New patterns of dental disease; Management of temporomandibular
disorders." Australian Dental Association News Bulletin, No.
246, July 1997.