Dealing with Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD’s)

December 5, 2019

A temporomandibular disorder is characterized by pain or tenderness in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw. The TMJ is a complex joint that enables us to chew, swallow, yawn and speak. It also has a wide range of movement. It is surrounded by muscles and ligaments that work in conjunction with the joint itself. TMD’s can cause severe pain for some, and effects in varying degrees, 33% of people over their lifetime.

The temporomandibular joint.

This is the temporomandibular joint, which can become inflamed, causing pain when opening the mouth.

The causes of TMD’s can vary from injury to arthritis or even a combination of the two. It’s been thought that clenching or grinding your teeth can exacerbate pain in the joint. There is also a correlation between stress and TMD, but it is unknown if stress causes pain in the joint or if stress is the result of having joint pain. In severe cases, pain in the TMJ can have life altering effects. Diagnosis should be made by a medical professional who can determine what type of TMD you’re are suffering from as there is a wide spectrum of disorders. 

Unfortunately for those suffering from TMD, the options for treatment are limited. Depending on the type of TMD, patients may find relief from massage therapy, acupuncture, or physical therapy. We as dental professionals can assist by creating a custom night guard to ease the discomfort of clenching and grinding. Many people are aware that they clench or grind and your dentist will look at your teeth for any signs (wearing of the tooth structure.) We will also ask about your history of headaches or migraines and muscle discomfort in the joint. A night guard is often a good place to start to find relief. 

 Facial massage for TMD.

Some have found massage therapy to be helpful in easing discomfort associated with TMD.

If you suffer from TMD, please let us know. The discomfort can be worsened by long periods of mouth opening and we try to accommodate this to make your appointments easier. We would love to discuss your options for treatment and may refer you to a specialist for further treatment. As always please ask us if you have any questions. 















Mayo Clinic

Canadian Dental Association

American Family Physician-Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders

Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy-Management and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: A Clinical Perspective

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