My name is TMD … not TMJ!


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — TMD is a disorder that affects the jaw and muscles in your face. It’s often incorrectly referred to as “TMJ”. This debilitating condition can keep you from enjoying everyday activities. Do you have TMD?

Do you have pain or discomfort when you chew…talk…or laugh?

You could have temporomandibular disorder or TMD for short. It’s a condition that affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. One study found Americans miss 17.8 million work days a year due to TMD!

Family Dentist Ray M. Becker, DDS, FAGD, at Howard County Smiles said “It’s not something that is unfortunately addressed as often as it should be, but it’s a significant issue obviously from even the workplace standpoint.”

Some possible causes of TMD: grinding or clenching your teeth, an injury to your jaw or neck, arthritis, stress, or even what happens while you sleep!

“We know that bruxing and grinding is a natural human stress release mechanism that you actually incur when you’re exiting the four stages of sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep.” Becker said.

Treatments include relaxation exercises, anti-anxiety and pain meds, night guards, dental work to fix the problem, or in some cases, jaw surgery. If you do have TMD, the right treatment could have you smiling again in no time.

TMD can affect one or both sides of your face. Besides pain in the face and jaw area, symptoms include trouble opening your mouth, jaws that lock, ringing in your ears, a clicking or popping sound in your jaw joint, toothaches, headaches, dizziness, or pain around your neck, shoulders, or ears.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT #2440

BACKGROUND:  The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a pivot that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull.  This allows the jaw to move up and down and side to side; therefore one can talk, chew and yawn. Problems with the muscles and joints that control it can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. The causes of this disorder are still unknown. However, dentists believe that the injury to the jaw, joint, or muscles of the head and neck can lead to the symptoms of TMD.  For example, a whiplash or a heavy blow can lead to TMD. Additional causes can be the result of grinding teeth, arthritis, and stress. TMD causes severe pain; it mostly affects women more than men, and it’s common in people between the ages of 20 and 40.  The pain one experiences is in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in and around the ear. There could be problems with opening the mouth wide, the jaw being locked in open or closed-mouth position. Popping sounds that may or may not be painful, trouble chewing, and swelling on the side of the face are also common.


TREATMENTS: There is no medical or dental specialty expertly trained in treating TMD. As a result, there are no standards of care in clinical practice. In fact many of the more than 50 different treatments are not based on scientific evidence. That results in the patient having difficulty finding the right care. The National Institute of Health instructs patients to seek a health care provider that recognizes musculoskeletal disorders and is trained in treating the pain conditions. When pain becomes too often and even chronic, it is best to reach out to pain clinics in hospitals.


DECIDING ON THE RIGHT TREATMENT:  Even though treatment can be challenging, experts suggest you use conservative treatment at first. This may include eating soft foods to give the jaw a rest. Some people’s symptoms go away after two to three weeks of a soft-food diet. Another way to fight the symptoms is to apply a moist heat to the side of the face that may be experiencing muscle spasms for at least ten minutes. That treatment is followed by stretching exercises of the jaw. Medicines used to control the symptoms of TMD can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve muscle pain and swelling. Muscle relaxants help loosen tight jaw muscles, and will need a prescription. Other medications can include anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants to relieve stress that can lead to symptoms of TMD.  The use of splints is designed to fit over the teeth and prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming together. These splints make it harder for the teeth to grind and clench, and releases the tensions from the muscles of the jaw. Surgery is the last option. These surgeries include arthroscopy, where the surgeon makes a very small incision in front of the ear to examine. Depending on the cause of the TMD, the surgeon may remove tissue or adjust the disk or the condyle. A second incision is then made. The surgeon uses this incision to place small instruments. Another one is open joint surgery and the surgeon operates on the TMJ. An incision is made just in front of the ear and the joint is operated on under direct vision.


* For More Information, Contact:

Ray Becker, DDS, FAGD

(410) 730-4674