This four-part article series provides an in-depth explanation of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD), looking at causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Countless Silver Spring residents live for years with recurring chronic migraines, believing that they are simply predisposed to having severe headaches. But did you know that a major cause of chronic headaches is temporomandibular disorder? TMD is a very common condition that affects many people. Unfortunately, it frequently goes without diagnosis because its sufferers simply don’t make the connection between head and neck pain and the smooth functioning of their jaws. In this four-part article series, an experienced Silver Spring orthodontist will be talking to us about TMD: it’s causes, symptoms and treatment options.
What is Temporomandibular Disorder?
“Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) refer to a suite of problems that affect the articulating joint of the jawbone,” explains the Silver Spring dentist. “The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is where the mandible (lower jaw) meets the skull at the temple (hence the name of the joint). If you put two fingers against your face right in front of either ear, you’ll feel the joint articulating when you open and close your mouth.”
Just like a well-oiled door hinge, for example, this joint should allow your lower jaw to articulate smoothly and easily from left-to-right and up-and-down. By controlling the motion of the lower jaw, the TMJ enables you to speak, eat and yawn. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t articulate smoothly and when there is a problem with the joint, the surrounding muscles and ligaments can take strain and become inflamed, stiff and painful.
What Causes Temporomandibular Disorders?
“It’s difficult to put a finger on the exact cause of TMD,” says a Silver Spring dental implants dentist. “The cause can be attributed to a wide variety and combination of factors, but the symptoms are linked with problems in the actual joint and the muscles that control the jawbone.”
Silver Spring dentists find the following to be the most common cause of TMD:
1. Bruxism (teeth grinding) and jaw clenching strains the TMJ and can lead to inflammation of the joint and the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
2. Stress can indirectly cause TMD through jaw clenching, teeth grinding and from tightening the facial muscles.
3. Physical injury to the TMJ, the jaw itself or the surrounding muscles from, for example, whiplash in a car accident, can cause TMD.
4. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. These can affect the joint connecting the mandible to the temporal plate of the skull.
5.“The ball of the mandible can actually become dislocated from the disc or soft cushion of the temporal socket,” says the Silver Spring dental implants specialist. “This causes it to sit unnaturally, straining the surrounding muscles and tissues.”
The Symptoms of TMD
TMD presents with an array of symptoms, which affected Silver Spring residents can experience in any combination, to any degree and for any length of time. “Some patients experience bouts of TMD that last only a week or two. Others live with constant head and neck pain, stiffness and discomfort as a result of this condition,” explains the Silver Spring dentist. “This condition tends to be more common amongst women and in people aged 20 to 40.”
Stay Tuned for Part 2
To find out what the Silver Spring dental implants professional has to say about the symptoms of TMD, stay tuned for the second installment of this four-part article series!