TMJ pain affects an estimated 15 percent of Americans and can cause a variety of issues, from headaches to tooth damage. But what does it mean? And what does it mean for your mouth? Here’s everything you need to know about TMJ pain and TMD.

What does TMJ stand for?

TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joints, which include the jaw muscles and joints that work the jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth and to chew, swallow, and talk.

The TMJ are located on each side of the face and are ball and socket joints with a complicated network of discs, bones, ligaments, and muscles that work together to allow the jaw to move.

What does TMD stand for?

TMD is an acronym for temporomandibular joint dysfunction or temporomandibular disorder, sometimes also referred to as a TMJ disorder. Any issue that causes pain during or interferes with the function of the TMJ can be referred to as TMD.

What causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by a variety of issues, including misalignment of the teeth or jaws, injury, dislocation of the jaw, arthritis, and stress (which can cause grinding or clenching the teeth).

What are the symptoms of TMD?

A major symptom of a TMD is TMJ pain. TMD can also cause tenderness in the jaw muscle, clicking or popping of the joints, or difficulty moving the jaw.  

How do you treat TMD?

TMJ disorders can be treated with various methods, depending on the cause of the disorder. Your dentist may recommend that you quit chewing gum, eat soft foods, or use heat to ease the pain. You may be fitted for a night guard or bite plate, which can prevent tooth grinding and clenching.

If your TMD symptoms are caused by stress, you may need to use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and relieve tension on the jaw. If your teeth or jaw is not properly aligned, you may be prescribed orthodontic treatment to correct the misalignment. In cases of arthritic TMJ pain, anti-inflammatory or arthritis medication may ease your symptoms.

Should I see a dentist for my TMJ pain?

Absolutely. Only by seeing a dentist can the cause of your TMJ pain be diagnosed and the course of treatment be undertaken to ease your TMJ pain.

Are you experiencing tooth or mouth pain that you think may be caused by TMJ issues? Schedule an appointment with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.