Reviewed by Dr. J. Travis Thompson, DDS

Welcome to the first of four blog posts dedicated to understanding and managing a common yet often misunderstood condition: Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). 

If you’re one of the millions who experience jaw pain, clicking, or popping, this blog series is for you. By the end of these posts, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of TMD, how it can be managed, and where to seek the most qualified help for your case.

In this blog, we’ll discuss TMD, what it is, its potential causes, and the symptoms you should be aware of.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is a condition that affects the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. This disorder can lead to pain, discomfort, and difficulty in jaw movement. TMJD can be caused by various factors such as physical trauma, chronic teeth grinding, anatomy, or stress. Symptoms of TMJD include jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking sounds in the jaw.

What Is TMD?

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a disorder that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ connects your jawbone to the temporal bones at the side and base of your skull. This joint opens and closes your mouth, so you can chew, talk, and yawn. 

TMJ disorders can cause pain or discomfort in this joint and the surrounding muscles. Sometimes, it may even result in difficulty opening or closing your mouth.

Did You Know?

  • TMD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, making it a relatively common disorder.
  • Women are more likely to develop TMD than men, particularly those between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • Beyond pain in the jaw joint, TMD can lead to earaches, headaches, difficulty chewing, and even lockjaw.
  • TMD can significantly impact quality of life. Even though it is not life-threatening, it can affect your ability to eat, sleep, and overall well-being.

What Causes a TMJ Flare Up?

When we talk, chew, or yawn, our temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles and ligaments around it work together. If there’s any problem with this system, it can cause temporomandibular disorder. Many different things can cause TMD, and they can be connected.

  • Physical trauma: A blow to the jaw or head can lead to TMD. The joint can be damaged or suffer the brunt of the impact, leading to lasting issues.
  • Anatomy: Some people are more predisposed to TMD due to the shape of their jaw, the alignment of their teeth, or other skeletal features.
  • Arthritis: TMD can be a symptom of underlying degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Bruxism: Habitual jaw clenching and grinding of the teeth can lead to tension in the jaw and face muscles, resulting in problems with the TMJ.
  • Stress: Stress often exacerbates clenching and grinding.

Understanding the root cause of your TMD is pivotal in its treatment. For some, it might be as simple as identifying and eliminating stressors, while a more rigorous therapeutic plan is necessary for others.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

The symptoms of TMD can vary significantly from person to person, which often makes the condition difficult to diagnose. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain: This could be localized to the jaw muscles or spread to the surrounding area, such as the face, head, neck, or shoulders.
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing: TMD sufferers might find chewing tough foods painful or require more effort than usual.
  • Facial pain: You may feel a dull, constant ache in the facial muscles, often confused with a headache or ear infection.
  • Popping or clicking sounds in the jaw: These noises may or may not be associated with pain and often signify a shift in the disc within the jaw joint.
  • Locking of the joint: Sometimes, TMD can cause limited movement or locking of the jaw in an open or closed position.
  • Muscle spasms: The muscles used for chewing can become tight or sore, and you may notice that you’re clenching your jaw without realizing it, especially during periods of stress.

Recognizing these symptoms is the first step in addressing TMD. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the worsening of the condition and can save you from unnecessary pain and suffering.

Oral Facial & Implant Specialists: Your TMJ Specialists in Deer Park, IL

If you suffer from both TMJ disorder and frequent headaches, Oral Facial & Implant Specialists can help.

Our experienced oral surgeons, Dr. Thompson, and Dr. Martin, specialize in treating TMJ disorders and offer personalized treatment plans based on each patient’s needs.

If you are searching for ‘TMJ treatment in Barrington, IL’ or ‘TMJ specialist near me, ‘ schedule a consultation today. Call (847) 381-0106 or complete the online booking form.

Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll explore the non-invasive treatment options available for TMJ Disorder.

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