TMJ & TMD

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular joint disorder ( TMD), means that the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw isn't working properly. This hinge is one of the most complex joints in the body, responsible for moving the lower jaw forward, backward and side-to-side. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working may cause TMD. Orthodontics is one effective approach often used with TMJ disorder. If your TMJ is caused by misalignment or bite problems, braces can be used to move your teeth back into the proper position. Once your teeth are positioned correctly, the TMJ will also shift back into its optimal alignment.

What are the Symptoms of TMD?

TMDs have many signs and symptoms. It's often hard to know for sure if you have TMD, because one or all of these symptoms can also be present for other problems. We can help you make a proper diagnosis by taking a complete medical and dental history, conducting a clinical examination and taking appropriate X-rays.

    Some of the most common TMD symptoms include:

  • Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes

  • A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth

  • Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely or chewing

  • Jaws that "get stuck," lock or go out

  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles

  • A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

How is TMD Treated?

While there is no single cure for TMJ, there are different treatments you can follow that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Your orthodontist may recommend one or more of the following

  • Trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication such as muscle-relaxants, aspirin or other over-the-counter pain-relievers, or anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Orthodontics is one effective approach often used with TMJ disorder. If your TMD is caused by misalignment or bite problems, braces can be used to move your teeth back into the proper position. Once your teeth are positioned correctly, the TMJ will also shift back into its optimal alignment.

  • Reducing the harmful effects of clenching and grinding by wearing an appliance, called a splint or deprogramming appliance, custom-made to fit your mouth is made. The appliance slips over the upper teeth and keeps them from grinding against the lower teeth and hence eliminates strain on jaw muscles.

  • Learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw.

  • When the jaw joints are affected and other treatments have been unsuccessful, jaw joint surgery may be recommended