Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

TMJ illustrationTemporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) are identified as problems that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ or TM joint), otherwise known as the jaw joint, and facial muscles. TMD is not a specific condition but a general term that refers to a problem with the jaw joint, similar to a problem you might have with a hip or knee joint.

While some cases of TMD may have clear-cut causes such as trauma, arthritis, or severe stress, the cause of many cases is not well understood. Some possible causes of TMD include:

  • Direct impact to jaw
  • Prolonged clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Muscle spasms caused by tension or stress
  • Arthritis or tumors of the TMJ

TMDs have many signs and symptoms, some of which include:

  • Pain in the jaw area, around and in front of the ear
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • Clicking, popping or cracking sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Feeling of the jaw being stuck or locked
  • Headaches or neck aches originating around the ear

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, tell your dentist. TMDs are difficult to identify without professional help. Your dentist can thoroughly examine you and take x-rays to determine the cause and source of the pain.

The treatment that your dentist will recommend for TMD will be based on your individual diagnosis. Treatment plans generally include:

  • Wearing a bite splint or mouthguard to prevent grinding
  • Stress-reducing exercises and/or physical therapy
  • Bite adjustment
  • Replacement of missing teeth

Call our office at (610) 566-3326 and schedule an appointment if you think that you may be suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder.

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