Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a term used to describe a group of problems that cause pain in the temporomandibular joint, often referred to as the TMJ. These problems can arise from the muscles around the joint, the disc within the joint, or the bony portion of the joint itself. Imbalances between the muscles that open and close your jaw are the most common culprit.
Up to 25% of the population will suffer from TMD symptoms. Most patients are 20-50 years old and the condition is 2-3 times more common in females. Typical symptoms include jaw clicking, limited mouth opening, jaw locking, and pain. Chewing and eating usually exacerbate symptoms. We describe TMD pain as an “ache” in front of your ear canal but may also refer to other areas of your face, head, neck, and shoulders. TMD patients often suffer from headaches.
TMD is more common in people who clench their jaw or grind their teeth, especially at night. Bad posture and emotional stress are contributors to this problem. You are three times more likely to suffer from TMD if you have been involved in a “whiplash” accident.
You should avoid aggravating activities like chewing gum or eating “rubbery” foods. Limit excessive talking. A custom-fitted mouthguard may be prescribed to help minimize grinding & clenching and promote relaxation of your jaw muscles at night. Patients with night-time symptoms should avoid stressful activity before bedtime and try to sleep in a “neutral” position. Sometimes, stress management techniques, like biofeedback, can assist you in learning how to relax your jaw muscles.
Conservative treatments we provide, such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture/dry needling, and myofascial release have been shown to be as effective as any surgery for most patients with TMD.
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