Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is a joint condition that can cause pain in the jaw, making it difficult to chew, and cause the jaw to pop or crack when moved. Studies estimate that around 10 million people in America suffer from TMD, but nowhere near as many sufferers are being properly treated for it. Here are some signs of TMD, and what you can do if you suspect you have it.
Jaw pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have TMD; however, if you frequently suffer from one of the following conditions, you should talk to your dentist.
- Headaches or migraines
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Stiff jaw
- Frequent neck pain
You should definitely bring it up at your next dentist appointment if you’ve ever experienced jaw trauma, your bite doesn’t line up properly, you frequently grind your teeth or clench your jaw, or you have sleep apnea.
Home Remedies for TMD
Some cases of TMD can be cured by things that you can do at home and by making a few lifestyle adjustments. If your jaw is in pain or you hear it clicking, placing a warm, damp towel across the lower half of your face will help ease the symptoms. Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help give the jaw muscle some relief:
- Eat softer foods
- Stop chewing gum
- Avoid opening your mouth wide to yawn, shout, or sing
- Wear a mouth guard at night to prevent jaw clenching
Any changes you are considering making to your diet or lifestyle should be discussed with your dentist, physician, or ENT doctor to determine if they will impact other aspects of your life.
If your dentist determines that other treatments aren’t working, they may suggest treatments that are minimally to somewhat invasive depending on the severity of your TMD. Botox or corticosteroid injections may help relieve pain in your joint. Some doctors may also try inserting small needles into the joint in order to irrigate it and remove anything that might be irritating it; a procedure known as Arthrocentesis. If the TMD case is extremely severe, your dentist may recommend actual surgery on your jaw, such as open-joint surgery or modified condylotomy, but only in the most extreme cases. Your dentist or ENT doctor will work with you to remediate your TMD in the least invasive manner possible.
TMD can be a very painful problem to deal with, and a complicated issue to get diagnosed. But if you suspect that you have TMD, discuss it with your dentist, and don’t be afraid to obtain a second opinion if you need to. If it goes untreated, a minor case of TMD can lead to more serious issues later in life, so if you have concerns about TMD, it’s symptoms and treatment, or you wish to be examined for it, please call Dr. Bruce Silva’s office for an appointment. Dr. Silva and his staff will listen to your concerns and ensure that you have the answers you need to live a healthy and pain-free life.