Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

Signs and Symptoms

A TMD disorder is a condition, not a specific disease. TMDs can have many different signs and symptoms, from mild to severe. Some patient may have symptoms but are still able to fully function in their everyday lives.  Some signs are symptoms include pain in or around the ear, tender jaw muscles, clicking/popping noises in the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, pain when yawning or chewing, jaw joints that feel as if they are “locked”, “stuck” or they “go out”, and headaches.

It’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ disorder but conditions such as jaw or head injuries, arthritis, teeth grinding, stress can cause TMJ disorder. A complete evaluation is always recommended.  It’s important to keep up-to-date with your checkups and if any changes are evident, then we will let you know.  

Did you know that even sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause you to clench or grind your teeth?  During your examination, we make every attempt to ask questions that are related to your overall health, medications, sleep patterns to help you achieve a better lifestyle.  

Treatment options: Sometimes no treatment is needed as the symptoms may disappear on their own.  Sometimes symptoms come and go, or may worsen over time.  TMD disorders are often managed, rather than cured. We will work with you to find the best approach that relieves your symptoms.  The step-by-step plan will allow you to try simple treatment before moving on to something that is more involved.  Remember, “less is often best” approach when it comes to treating TMJ disorders.  

Here are some self-care practices that you may find beneficial:

  • eating soft foods
  • minimizing extreme jaw movements, such as yawning
  • avoid chewing gum
  • use heat or ice packs to relieve muscle tenderness
  • meditation, massage therapy can also help

There are many different types of occlusal guard (night guard or day guard) that can help relieve your symptoms.  One of the main functions of the night guard is to help you not clench or grind your teeth.  Remember, once the enamel is worn, it does not grow back.  Sometimes a bite adjustment helps relieve the symptoms.  Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended.