What You Need To Know About TMJ and TMD

TMD 101

TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder, a condition affecting the area where the jawbone connects to the temporal bones in the skull. There are various signs of the disorder, but the most common ones are pains in and around the ear or jawbone.

This area is also called the temporomandibular joint. So, if you hear somebody call it TMJ, they are referring to the same area and condition.

Do You Have TMD?

There are many reasons for TMD. The most common ones are:

  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Continual stress causing your facial muscles to tighten

Only a proper examination by a dentist will determine if you have TMD. If you have any of the following symptoms, it is a good idea to have an examination.

  • Pain or tenderness in or around your ear or jawbone
  • Pain or discomfort when you smile or open your mouth wide
  • Pain when you chew food
  • An uncomfortable bite in the area of the pain
  • A feeling your teeth are out of alignment
  • The sound or sensation of popping in the ear or joint when you move it
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Your jaw gets stuck or locked open
  • Persistent shoulder or neck pain
  • Dizziness, ear pain, or ringing in the ears
  • Trauma to the area from an accident

How Is It Corrected?

You can try to relieve the pain at home with over-the-counter pain relievers, ice packs, or heat. Since stress could be a cause of the pain, learning some relaxation techniques could be helpful. But, to treat the cause of the pain, you’ll have to consult with your dentist.

Your dentist might use treatments such as:

  • A night guard to prevent grinding and clenching of your teeth
  • Dental work
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Ultrasound

In some cases, surgery is required. This is rare and would only be considered after all other options have been used.

We Can Help

Dr. Heidi Butts has over 20 years of dental and orthodontic experience. She is the State Dental Officer for the Illinois National Guard. Dr. Butts has handled numerous cases of TMD and has access to state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosing and treating the condition.

If you believe you are suffering from TMD call Big Bend Orthodontics and make an appointment. We’ll conduct a thorough examination and offer the best course of action to get you back on the road to full health.