TMJ disorders, also known as TMD, are disorders that affect the joints that attach the jaw to the skull.  The temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are located in front of the ears, and are complex joints that allow you to move your jaw up and down and side to side in order to talk, chew, yawn, or move your jaw in any way.  TMD is defined as any disorder that affects either the joints themselves or the muscles that control them.  TMD can occur in either joint individually, or in both joints at once.  The cause of TMD is unknown, but what we do know is that TMD affects more women than men, and can occur along with other disorders, like chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.

Symptoms of TMD:

  • Problems opening your mouth wide
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth
  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw, neck, shoulders, or in and around your ear when you move your jaw to speak, chew, or open your mouth wide
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Swelling on the side of your face
  • Trouble chewing or a sudden, uncomfortable bite that feels like the upper and lower teeth are not lining up properly
  • Jaws that “lock” or get “stuck” in the open or closed position
  • Toothaches
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing problems
  • Neck or upper shoulder pain

 Diagnosis of TMD is done by checking for pain in the joints, listening for clicking or popping sounds, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other tests, most of which are performed to rule out other conditions.  Some may be referred to an oral surgeon for more severe problems.

The most common treatments for TMD are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, night guards or splints to reduce grinding and/or clenching, and dental work to correct any dental problems that may be contributing.

Dr. Dawn Gayken, DDS, is a full-service dental practice and can treat TMD.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Leave a Comment