Many adults suffer from chronic facial pain, neck pain, and recurring headaches. In some cases this pain is the due to Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). TMD is a term that describes inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and its associated ligaments and muscles. Some common symptoms include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, or headaches and neck pain.
What causes TMD?
Some TM problems result from arthritis, dislocation or injury of the joints and muscles that move the joints. Other factors relating to the way the upper and lower teeth fit together (the bite) may cause some types of TM disorders. Quite often, it is stress accompanied by habitual clenching and grinding of the teeth, that leads to TMD due to the excessive force these traumatic habits place on the teeth, jaw muscles, and joint
How is TMD treated?
If you are diagnosed with pain related to a TMD, identifying the cause of the TMD will help determine the most effective course of treatment. Possible treatment modalities include stress reducing exercises, wearing a mouth protector to prevent teeth grinding, orthodontic treatment, medication or surgery. In many cases, only minor, relatively non-invasive treatment may be needed to help reduce the pain. More complex cases may require the referral and collaboration with other dental and/or pain specialists.