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TMD: Temporomandibular Disorder Causes and Symptoms

TMD, otherwise known as the temporomandibular disorder, is an issue that affects the joints located at the base of the skull and the lower jaw. This is at times referred to as a “myofascial pain disorder” by doctors.

The temporomandibular joint pertains to the joint which links the jaw to the skull’s temporal bones which are located in front of each ear. This allows a person to move his or her jaw side to side, up and down, yawn, chew and talk. Issues with the muscles in the face and in the jaw which control it are referred to as TMD or temporomandibular disorders, but people may hear it incorrectly termed TMJ, after the joint.

For a fact, the condition itself is not regarded as very serious. The usual symptoms comprise of difficulties in eating, pain or discomfort, jaw joint popping or clicking. These symptoms typically last for a few weeks or months before they get better. However, they tend to eventually return with time.

But it is important to note that these symptoms can greatly reduce the quality of life, and due to this, special treatment may be necessary if the effects are serious

The Causes of TMD

In truth, dentists perceive that the symptoms of TMD arise from complications with parts of the joint or the muscles of the jaw. Injury to the muscles of the neck, head, joint, or jaw which are acquired from whiplash or heavy blow can lead to this condition. On the other hand, other causes compose of:

  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth (puts more pressure on the joint)
  • Stress or anxiety (can cause you to grind your teeth or tighten facial and jaw muscles)
  • Movement of the disc or soft cushion between the ball and socket of the joint

The Symptoms

Temporomandibular disorders usually cause discomfort and severe pain. This can be temporary but in worse cases, this may also last for several years.

This may affect one or both sides of a person’s face. This condition is more common to people between 20 and 40 years of age. Likewise, this is more common in women than men.

Symptoms Include:

  • Jaws that get locked or stuck in the open or closed mouth position
  • Trouble when a person tries to open his/her mouth wide
  • Tenderness or pain the jaw joint area, face, shoulders, and neck in or around the ear as a person opens his/her mouth wide, speaks, and chews
  • Grating, popping, or clicking sounds in the jaw joint, especially when chewing or opening or closing the mouth. This may or may not cause pain.
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • A person may also experience dizziness, hearing problems, toothaches, headaches, earaches, and tinnitus (a condition described as ringing in the ears)
  • Sudden uncomfortable bite or problems chewing. The person may also feel that the lower and upper teeth do not fit well together.

The good news is that several cases of TMD improve over time, so people affected by it won’t require surgery. However, TMD can make a considerable impact on the quality of a person’s life. Thus, seeing a dental professional is a vital step.

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