What is TMD?

woman asking questionUnderstanding TMD Problems and How You Can Treat Them

You’ve probably heard of TMJ or TMD at least once in your life. Maybe you know someone who’s been diagnosed or maybe you’re researching the symptoms to find out if you could be affected. ARCH Orthodontics is here to tell you a little bit about TMD and what treatments are available to help bring relief.

What’s The Difference Between TMJ and TMD?

We hear these two abbreviations used interchangeably all the time. We’re going to help you understand the differences between the two. TMJ is not actually a disease or illness. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge points that connect your jaw bones to your head. They are located directly in front of the ears and give you the ability to chew your food, talk, etc.

The TMJ is pretty remarkable in both its form and function because it can rotate, glide, and act as a powerful hinge all at the same time. That’s a pretty impressive amount of mobility! Surrounding this vital joint are a series of really cool and complex protectors like tendons, muscles, and joint pads.

Most of the time, these things all work extremely well together. But sometimes stuff gets thrown off course and that’s when pain, popping, and inflammation can occur. That’s not what you want to have happen in one of your body’s most commonly used joints. This is where TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder comes into play, describing the annoying, often painful set of conditions that can affect your TMJ.

What are Common Symptoms of TMD?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimated in 2016 that nearly 10 million Americans struggle with TMD. They also found that the disease tends to be more common in women than men, generally occurring between the ages of 20 to 40.

Every patient and every case of TMD is different. Sometimes symptoms stick around only for a short time, but for some patients, it can be several years before they’re able to find relief.

Here are some of the most common signs you should be on the lookout for:

  • Pain in your jaw, ears, head, neck, or cheeks
  • Popping or grating in your jaw
  • Pain when chewing
  • Lockjaw or the inability to open your mouth
  • Stiff, tired feeling in the face
  • A change in how upper and lower teeth come together
  • Ringing or stuffy ears

What Treatment is Available for TMD?

Each patient is different, so without knowing your individual symptoms and needs, it’s difficult to predict what type of treatment will benefit you the most. Even if you’re experiencing mild symptoms, there are a few things you can do to help yourself such as avoiding chewing gum, making sure you’re not grinding your teeth, relaxing your facial muscles (remember “lips together, teeth apart”), chewing food on both sides of your mouth, and practicing good posture.

ARCH Orthodontics can help you better understand TMD and what treatment options you have to help you feel better if you’re struggling with TMJ pain. Please give one of our nine convenient locations a call, today, so that we can help you live more  comfortably tomorrow!

Visit our offices in Bridgewater, Brockton, Randolph, Canton, Westwood, Orleans, Hyannis, Hyde Park, and Stoughton.

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