Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge that connects your lower jaw to your skull. The temporomandibular joint is a complex hinge joint that allows us to move our lower jaw up and down, and side to side. The joint is made up of the following parts:
- the temporal bone, which is the large bone in your skull above your ear
- the mandible, or lower jawbone
- the articular disk, a small cushion of cartilage that sits between the temporal bone and the mandible
The joint is held together by ligaments and muscles. The muscles allow us to move our lower jaw, and the ligaments help to stabilize the joint. TMD can occur when there is a problem with any of the parts of the joint, including the muscles, ligaments, or articular disk. TMD can also occur if there is a problem with the way the teeth come together (the bite).
Did You Know?
TMD is a very common condition, affecting millions of people. It is more common in women than men, and it often occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Do I have TMD?
You may have TMD if you have noticed symptoms associated with the disorder. There are many different symptoms of TMD, including:
- pain in the jaw, face, neck or shoulders
- clicking, popping or grating sound when you move your jaw
- jaw stiffness or limited movement
- tiredness or pain in the face
- difficulty chewing or pain when chewing
- pain in the ear
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist or doctor. Only your Detroit dentist will be able to diagnose TMD and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
What can I expect when being treated for TMD at Grand River Family Dentistry?
There are many different treatments for TMD, depending on the cause of the problem. Some common treatments include:
- resting the jaw
- eating soft foods
- applying heat or ice to the jaw
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- physical therapy
If these conservative treatments do not work, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard or splint at night to prevent clenching or grinding of the teeth. Wearing a mouthguard at night also keeps the jaw in a relaxed position to help minimize any additional stress on the jaw.
How do I care for my TMD appliance?
To care for your mouthguard or splint, it is important to clean it daily with mild soap and lukewarm water. You also need to keep your teeth clean by brushing them twice a day and flossing daily. It is important to brush and floss before wearing your mouthguard at night to minimize the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Overtime, you may need to have your appliance replaced as it wears down.