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The Temporomandibular Joint and TMD

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) was until recently a widely unknown problem affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It was unknown mostly because the symptoms seemed to indicate some other problem, and unless the doctor knows what to look for and to ask the right questions, a diagnosis of TMD is unlikely to occur in the initial consultation.

There is a wide range of TMD symptoms which may easily be mistaken for some other disorder. These include:

  • Changes in occlusion
  • Clenching of the teeth
  • Clicking sound of the jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Localized pain in the neck, back and head area
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Pain or ringing in the ears for no discernible reason
  • Soreness in the jaw area, pronounced in the morning or late afternoon
  • Teeth sensitivity with no gum problems
  • Tingling or numbness of the fingers

The only way that a neuromuscular dentist will be able to diagnose TMD is to take a careful and detailed patient history as well as a thorough physical examination of the TMJ. The neuromuscular dentist will look for symptoms of TMD, and may order a panoramic X-ray to confirm it. The X-ray will also show if the teeth could be causing the problem. Other tests that may be done, though rarely, include computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If your neuromuscular dentist determines that you will need surgery to correct the TMD, a maxillofacial surgeon will be referred to you. In most cases, however, a less radical solution is indicated. These may include:

  • Diet modification
  • Ice and hot packs
  • Orthopedic appliance or mouthguard
  • Pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Posture training
  • Resting the TMJ
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Splints

TMD can be a real hindrance, and can significantly reduce the quality of your life. If you suspect that the medical problems you have been having may actually be symptoms of TMD, consult with a neuromuscular dentist as soon as possible.

3 Responses to “The Temporomandibular Joint and TMD”

  1. This list of TMD symptoms should help a lot of people understand if they are suffering from it.

  2. Good writing as always

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