Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is the name of a series of conditions affecting the joints between your jaws and your skull. These flexible joints are unique in the body as they need to be able to move in multiple directions while withstanding the enormous forces of biting and chewing. When factors place stress on the joints it can cause a variety of dysfunctions including muscle strain and spasms and a gradual loss of jaw function. It’s estimated that over 44 million people in North America suffer some degree of TMD dysfunction and facial pain.
If you’re experiencing a clicking sensation when you open your mouth, or headaches and facial pain, you should speak to your dentist to determine if the problem is being caused by TMD.
What causes TMD?
There are a variety of potential causes for TMD, ranging from grinding or excessively clenching your teeth to malocclusion such as crooked teeth or over/underbite. Other causes include congenital jaw defects where the lower jaw is improperly aligned with the upper jaw, posture, or head and neck trauma such as whiplash. TMD can affect the muscles surrounding the joint, or it can affect the structures and tissues within the joint itself.
How is TMD treated?
TMD is treated in two phases. In the first phase, we focus on diagnosing the cause of the TMD, reducing the symptoms, and improving the mobility of your lower jaw. Phase two consists of treating the factors that are placing the joints under stress. Depending on the cause of the TMD, this can include prosthetic, orthodontic, or dental treatments.
If you feel a clicking sensation when you open or close your jaws, or if you’re experiencing facial pain, contact our office to book an examination.