If you experience frequent pain in the jaw area, especially when eating or speaking, you may have TMD. Read on to learn about this disorder, and what your dentist can do to help you treat it.
Wait, Is It TMD or TMJ?
You may have heard of the pain in the jaw area known as TMD. Or maybe you’ve heard it referred to as TMJ. So what’s the difference? TMJ is actually an acronym that represents the temporomandibular joint, the joint directly in front of your ear that connects your lower jaw to your skull. Whereas TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder/dysfunction, refers to problems with that joint, the jaw, and the muscles that make the jaw work. TMD is thought to have a variety of different causes, including arthritis, injury, clenching, grinding, excessive gum chewing, stress, and anxiety.
Signs & Symptoms
Most people with TMD will experience pain and sensitivity in the jaw area, sometimes accompanied by swelling. That pain can also travel to the neck and shoulders. Patients with TMD may also have trouble opening their mouth and may notice that their jaw clicks or locks as they move it. It’s possible that TMD can influence the bite, or make it hard for the affected individual to chew their food.
Oral Appliance Therapy for TMD
If you think you might have TMD, your best bet in dealing with it is to talk to our expert dentists. We will be able to give you tools to help manage the pain and prevent the issue going forward. One of the most effective ways to address TMD is to engage in oral appliance therapy. Such an appliance, also known as a splint, helps to keep the upper and lower teeth apart so that they don’t touch, which eases the pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Oral appliances are generally worn for the majority of the day, whenever the patient is not eating. Alternatively, we may recommend another form of treatment, like a nightguard or relaxation techniques, to address your TMD and relieve your discomfort.
South Texas Smiles Is Here to Help
We see many patients with TMD. It’s a fairly common issue–in fact, the TMJ Association estimates that 12% of the population suffers from TMD. If you think you might be dealing with TMD, contact us here at South Texas Smiles and we’ll get you set up with an exam.Contact Us