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What is temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

Akash Bajaj, MD
Anesthesiology
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and/or the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.

Myofascial pain is the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function and the neck and shoulder muscles.

The second most common factor is internal derangement of the joint. This means a dislocated jaw or displaced disc, or injury to the condyle (the rounded edges of the jaw). Next there is degenerative joint disease, such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint. It is possible for a person to have one or more of these conditions at the same time.
If you have frequent headaches, earaches, tender jaw muscles, dull, aching facial pain or feel like your jaw locks or strays to one side when you open your mouth, you could be suffering from TMD. These aches and pains may be related to the jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, and the muscles that work to move the joint. These painful conditions are called TMD for temporomandibular disorders.

TMD can have many different signs and symptoms that range in severity. Some patients may experience symptoms without any apparent loss of function. To determine how best to treat your condition, a thorough evaluation by a dentist is recommended. Your dentist may check the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Your complete medical history may be reviewed, so it's important to keep your dental records up-to-date. Your dentist may take x-rays and may make a model of your teeth to see how your bite fits together. Your dentist may also request specialized x-rays for the TM joints.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are problems that affect the jaw and jaw joint as well as the surrounding facial muscles. Typically the patient experiences tenderness and pain in the jaw, clicking or popping when opening and shutting the mouth, and headache or neck pain. TMD can be triggered by tooth grinding or clenching, arthritis, injury, or poor alignment of the jaws.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.