What is TMD And Do You Have It?

X-ray of jaw

Health problems and the pain associated with disorders of the jaw joint (the temporomandibular joint) may seem to be mysterious and unexplainable to you, but there are growing numbers of health care practitioners who are qualified to diagnose and treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD). While no amount of printed information can replace a complete examination by a qualified practitioner, it is often comforting to have some of your questions answered before taking that major step and making an appointment to consult "an expert".

Some patients live with TMD for years before it becomes painful enough to cause them to seek help. Others contract the problem suddenly -- usually by some trauma or blow to the head, face and/or neck region. But both types of patient can have very similar symptoms.

In some cases, TMD can be caused by, and may actually be part of, another disorder. These disorders may include: (click each topic for more information)

Diseases Confused with TMD

In other cases, a disorder may simply mimic a TMD problem and cause no changes to the joint. Examples of unrelated medical conditions that can be confused with TMD include: (click each topic for more information)

Even though a headache can be a sign of many kinds of health problems, frequent headaches are the most common complaints of TMD sufferers. Other common complaints can include clicking or popping jaw joints, pain when chewing or yawning, grinding or clenching teeth, neck/shoulder pain, worn teeth, teeth that do not touch when biting, difficulty opening or closing mouth. Again, only a qualified health care practitioner can tell you for certain if any of these problems are a direct result of TMD.

Treatment of TMD

TMD x-rayMethods for successful diagnosis and treatment of TMD vary from patient to patient and from office to office. Some problems may require a "team-approach" which means several different health care practitioners may be working with you concurrently to help alleviate your problem. Treatment can take time and even the amount of time varies from patient to patient. Sometimes it even takes time to get an appointment with a qualified health care practitioner.

Click here for a few suggestions you might follow to help yourself if there will be a lapse of time before you can get an examination appointment.

We also have some TMD self-help recommendations to perform during your treatment program. See them here.