Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

September 17, 2020

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. The TMJ is the most used joint in the body. It is actually similar to the knee as it makes use of an articular disc, like the meniscus. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.” (Johns Hopkins) TMD’s usually occur between the ages of 30 and 50, but can have earlier onset. They may be caused by an injury (to the joint, head or neck), bruxism (clenching/grinding), arthritis or another cause.

Jaw pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, causing sometimes debilitating headaches.


Types of TMD
TMD are classified by The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research into the following categories.

-Internal Damage of the Jaw: dislocation of the jaw, a displaced disk or damage to the bone.

-Joint Disease: Including but not limited to, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. 

-Myofascial Pain: Discomfort in the fascia (connective tissue covering the joints) and/or muscles of the jaw. This is the most common form of TMD. 

The symptoms of TMD are usually pretty obvious, and in some cases can cause great discomfort for the patient. If you notice any of the following, or anything else not normal with your jaw joint, please bring it up at your next appointment.

  • Discomfort in the jaw joint
  • Popping/clicking in the joint
  • Jaw locking open
  • Headaches, pain behind the eyes
  • Earache or ringing in the ears
  • Limited mouth movement
  • Dizziness
  • Clenching/Grinding 

Many times there is not a lot that can be done for TMD as it quite a complex medical condition. Every case is unique and should be treated as such. If you’re having joint discomfort, you should discuss it with your dentist. If they feel it is necessary or at your request you may be referred to a specialist. Non-surgical options include:

  • Ice & hot packs
  • Rest along Relaxation/Stress management techniques
  • Pain relievers
  • Habit changes (preventing clenching or avoid chewing gum)
  • Oral Appliances ( to decrease effects of bruxism)
  • Laser devices used to relieve muscle-related jaw pain
  • Physical Therapy
  • Injections (corticosteroids, Botox)

If your case is severe, surgery may be warranted but should be a last resort. TMJ implants replace all or part of the temporomandibular joint. The goal being to restore TMJ function. 

If you suffer from TMD or start experiencing symptoms, please bring it to our attention at your next visit. 



Johns Hopkins Medicine:

Mayo Clinic:


TLC Massage School:


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