TMJ-TMD Treatment

Do you have a constant urge to clench and grind your teeth often? If yes, then you need to stop right now. This habit of clenching and grinding of teeth is known to cause temporomandibular joint disorders. Temporomandibular joint disorders commonly known as TMD or TMJ are a group of conditions caused due to the dysfunction of the joint and the muscles that control the joint movement. Statistics indicate that TMDs are more common in women than in men and that majority of the population suffers from TMD at some point in life.
Lets understand what is the temporomandibular joint? The temporomandibular joint is a joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bones at the base of the skull. This joint helps us to perform activities like talking, chewing, yawning, moving the jaw up and down, and from side to side.
The temporomandibular joint has both rotatory and gliding movements, which is possible due to an articular disc present in the joint. The articular disc divides the joint into upper and lower compartments, which allows free movement of the joint. You can feel the movement of the joint by placing your finger in front of your ear and moving your jaw.
Yes, the temporomandibular joint is a very important joint performing vital functions. Now you must be wondering what kind of conditions one could suffer from? A person who has temporomandibular joint disorder could suffer from one or more of the following:
  • Myofascial pain – it involves pain and discomfort in the muscles that control jaw movements
  • Derangement of joint – it involves displaced articular disc or dislocation of the joint
  • Arthritis – degenerative or inflammatory joint disorder
  • Tight muscles – the muscles controlling the jaw movement may tighten and cause severe pain.
  • Damaged joints – one may experience a clicking sound during movement of the joint which may be accompanied with pain. This indicates improper functioning of the joint.
TMD may be caused due to:
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth
  • Injury
  • Stress
  • Hormonal
  • Genetic
What are the symptoms one should look for?
  • Popping and clicking sounds
  • Pain around the jaw
  • Difficulty in opening and closing the mouth
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Pain in swallowing or speaking
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Pain behind eyes
A doctor with the help of physical examination and clinical history diagnoses TMD. Sometimes a dental X-ray maybe needed.

TMD can be treated by simple application of moist heat or ice to the affected area. You must follow a soft diet to avoid aggregating the pain further. Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve the pain and even some quick relaxation techniques or breathing exercises can do the trick. You must practice a few jaw exercises regularly to keep TMD away. One such exercise is to open the mouth to a comfortable fully open position and then to apply slight additional pressure to open the mouth fully. This helps the muscles to contract and relax adequately and also ensures smooth movement at the joint.

Incase of a temporomandibular joint dislocation the doctor reduces the joint by pressing the patient’s premolar teeth downwards and at the same time pressing the underneath of his chin upwards and backwards.

The earlier TMDs are detected the easier they are to treat. Consult your doctor now if you face any of these symptoms.

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