Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a problem affecting the ‘chewing’ muscles and the joints between the lower jaw and the base of the skull. You may have seen your GP who may have refered to the condition as “Myofascial Pain Disorder”.
The condition is common and it has been estimated that up to 30% of adults will experience TMD at some point in their lives.
The condition itself isn’t usually serious, and the symptoms it can cause – including pain, jaw joint clicking or popping, and difficulties eating – usually only last a few months before getting better.
However, these symptoms can significantly lower quality of life, and specialist treatment might be required if they’re severe.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
- Clicking, popping or grating noises as you chew or move your mouth
- Muscle pain around the jaw
- Pain in front of the ear that may spread to the cheek, ear and temple
- Difficulty opening the mouth – the jaw may feel tight, as if it is stuck, making eating difficult
- Headache or migraine
- Earache or a “buzzing” or blocked sensation in the ear
- Pain in other areas of the body – such as neckache or backache
What are the possible causes of TMD?
- Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep (bruxism) – which overworks the jaw muscles and puts pressure on the joint (often caused by stress)
- Wear and tear of the inside of the jaw joint – usually caused by osteoarthritis
- Injury to the jaw joint – for example, after a blow to the face or surgery
- Stress – some people may inherit increased sensitivity to pain or stress
- Uneven bite – for example, when new fillings, dental crowns or dentures are fitted
- Specific diseases – TMD may be associated with specific diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout or Fibromyalgia
However, it is important to remember that some people may develop TMD without an obvious cause being found.
Treatment options for TMD include an initial consultation with the Dentist. This appointment will last roughly 1.5 hours and will often involve Dental X-rays and images. You will be asked a detailed account of your Dental history, lifestyle changes or any triggers that could be related to the cause of your TMD. No single case of TMD is the same and treatment sadly, quite often unsuccessful, lengthy and time consuming.
If it is thought you have a good chance of treatment being successful, the treatment options to ease and hopefully cure TMD includes; making a functional appliance (similar to a mouth guard you would wear for sport) that is worn either constantly or just at night. The Acrylic appliance is worn on with the upper or lower jaw and will cover all the teeth. The aim of this is to stop the clenching or grinding action can could be contributing to your pain. If the cause is related to Dental work such as fillings or crowns that have affected the bite, these will be corrected or replaced.
Complex TMD cases often scan over several months and can take in excess of 20 appointments with the Dentist.
If you would like to learn more about TMD or how we could help please Contact Us for more information.