What is a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint disorders, also abbreviated as TMD or TMJ, consist in a complication that affects the proper function of the articulation that connects the temporal bones of the skull to the jaw.
The articulation that connects your skull temporal bones with the jaw has many functions which are the ones that allow you to move your jaw up side to side and up and down. When the temporomandibular disorders occur and affect these functions many complications develop around the mobility of your temporomandibular joint, which is the one that allows you to yawn, chew and also talk properly.In resume, the temporomandibular joint disorders consist in complications around the muscle that control your jaw and its functions.
TMD, after (Temporomandibular Disorders) and TMJ, after (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) are both abbreviations used to refer to this complication that affects the jaw, but the second one, TMJ, is not correct. TMD is the proper abbreviation to use.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
In some cases, the cause of this disorder can be unknown, although many dentists believe that TMD can result as a consequence of many factors, depending on the case of every person in its particularity. Some of those factors may include:
- Stress. This factor is considered to cause TMD since it leads to tightening the face and jaw muscles, as well as clench the teeth.
- The pressure that is done directly on the joint while clenching or grinding the teeth.
- Arthritis that affects the joint.
- Having a bad bite.
- Having a bad posture
Have you ever feel that your jaw gets stuck for seconds or that it can produce a hard noise while it moves? This is exactly what having a TMD feels like.
Other symptoms that indicate a disorder of the temporomandibular joint can be:
- Feeling pain to speak, yawn, chew or opening the mouth. TMD can cause tenderness and pain to the face, neck or jaw joint area.
- Experiencing a tired feeling in the face.
- Complications at opening the mouth widely.
- Swelling located on the sides of the face.
- The jaw gets stuck when in an open or closed position.
- Producing noises when chewing or when opening or closing the mouth.
- Headaches, neck aches, tooth aches or earaches.
- Problems to chew or with the bite.
The Temporomandibular Joint Disorder can last and cause troubles to the mobility of your jaw for a short period of time or it can last many years.
The truth is that there is not just one effective cure to treat TMD but there exist some traditional treatments your dentist can recommend to reduce the annoying symptoms caused by this disorder.
- You can relieve the muscle pain and swell taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. If needed, your dentist can prescribe you high doses of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or muscle relaxants.
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth and also correct your bite using a splint and a night guard that keep your upper and lower teeth separated.
- Your dentist can correct any bite problem that can be causing the TMD by using crowns, bridges or braces.