Temporomandibular disorder is a condition, not a specific disease of the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint. Many patients may have some minor symptoms but are still able to function normally in eating and speaking. Specific signs and symptoms include pain in or around the ears, tender jaw muscles, clicking or popping in the jaw, inability to open or close, and headaches. There are several causes that are linked to TMD or even a combination of these conditions including trauma, disease of the muscles and/or bone such as arthritis, malocclusion, tooth grinding, anxiety and stress. TMD may come and go, or worsen over time. The TMJ is often treated to help manage the symptoms rather than cure. Treatment usually involves a series of steps beginning with simple treatment first to evaluate the pain relief that works best for you. Changing simple daily habits to avoid strenuous muscle use and correct poor head and neck posture is usually discussed. Medicine to reduce pain and inflammation or Botox administration will help relax the muscles and give relief. A more common treatment is the use of a nightguard splint to decrease clenching or grinding of the teeth. It is important to continue with follow up appointments with the dentist to make sure the disorder stays manageable. If the disorder progresses and becomes severe to a point that it has become difficult to function normally on a daily basis then a referral to a specialist for possible TMJ surgery to correct any bony defect or joint abnormality may be recommended.
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley