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Are temporomandibular disorders (TMD) permanent?

Most temporomandibular disorders (TMD) may not completely disappear, but it can be managed. Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may refer you to a physician or another dentist. Your dentist may recommend one of the following treatment options:

  • eating softer foods
  • avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
  • modifying the pain with heat packs
  • practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.
  • exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
  • medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
  • a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Your dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the suspected cause.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) usually respond well to treatment. TMDs are a group of problems that affect the temporomandibular joint, which is located at the point where your lower jaw bone meets the skull. TMDs cause jaw and facial pain, difficulty opening and closing the mouth, headaches, and other symptoms. Your dentist or doctor can prescribe medications and recommend strategies that can help to eliminate TMD symptoms over time. Ask your dentist or doctor about strategies to keep this condition from reoccurring.

Temporomandibular disorders typically are resolved with a treatment program in only a few months. But for many, these disorders can be recurring in that they are brought on by stress. Learning how to deal with stress and being an active participant in your own care will lessen the possibility of recurrence and the need for treatment. Regular checkup visits with a doctor or dentist can help.

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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.