TMJ/TMD: Causes and Treatments of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

September 1, 2021

Open wide! When your dentist asks you to open your mouth during an exam, you engage your temporomandibular joint. This sliding hinge connects your jawbone to your skull, allowing your mouth to move freely. Unfortunately, some people experience problems with this joint, a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or simply TMJ. Clicking, popping, pain, discomfort, and soreness can all be signs of TMD, and if you have these symptoms, they can potentially cause significant difficulties with your everyday activities like eating and talking.

While TMD symptoms can be difficult to live with, there are options for treatment. Read on to find out more about TMD and what you can do about it!

What Causes TMD?

The symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder include:

  • Pain or soreness in the jaw
  • Pain around one or both of your temporomandibular joints
  • Problems with chewing
  • Limited range of motion in the jaw
  • Aching around the facial muscles or ears
  • Locking or clicking of the temporomandibular joint

Although the medical community has not been able to determine a consistent cause at the root of TMD and related disorders, It is thought to be a result of genetics, arthritis, jaw injuries, or a combination of these factors. Pain in the jaw can also be related to bruxism, or excessive teeth grinding. No matter what the cause of your TMD pain, there are many options for non-surgical treatment to help you eliminate and manage your symptoms

How is TMD Treated?

In many cases, TMD will go away on its own without any treatment. To aid in this process, try to rest your jaw as much as possible. Avoid hard or chewy foods to give your jaw a break. Alternating between ice packs and heating packs on the outside of your jaw may also help to reduce swelling and pain while you heal.

If your TMD does not go away over time, you may need more aggressive treatment. For TMJ pain related to teeth grinding, wearing a mouthguard at night can help to reduce strain on your jaw. You can also speak to your doctor or dentist about exercises you can do to alleviate your pain. They may even be able to recommend a physical therapist in your area who is familiar with this condition. Just make sure you always speak to a medical professional who can properly diagnose your condition before starting any self-managed care routine.

In a small number of cases, surgical treatment may be the best option for TMD patients. Again, a doctor or dentist can accurately diagnose you and determine if surgery is necessary.

If you live in the Chicago area, American Dental can help you find out what is causing your jaw pain. Call us for general dentistry in Lincoln Square, including regular checkups, emergency dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. During your appointment, you can direct any questions about your jaw pain to a member of our staff. If you are diagnosed with TMD, we can recommend a course of treatment. If your TMJ pain can’t be treated through non-surgical means, we are also a top oral surgeon in Evergreen Park and surrounding areas. Click the “Make an Appointment” button to find out which of our 7 locations works best for you and call or schedule your appointment online today!

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