What are TMDs?

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of more than 30 conditions that can cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. Many TMDs last only a short time and go away on their own. However, in some cases, they can become chronic or last for long periods.

What is the difference between TMDs and TMJs?

TMDs refer to disorders, and TMJ refers only to the temporomandibular joint. People have two TMJs, one on each side of the jaw. You can feel them by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth.

What are the symptoms of TMD?

It is important to know that sounds (such as clicking or popping) without pain in the TMJs are common and do not require treatment.

The following are an example of TMD symptoms associated with TMDs:

  • Pain in the muscles and jaw joint when chewing
  • Pain that spreads to the face or neck
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • Ringing in the ears, hearing loss, or dizziness
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

If you are unsure about any of the symptoms you are experiencing, Schedule an appointment with Dr Daniel Tan & Associates for a consultation and evaluation.

How is a TMD diagnosed?

Your dentist will evaluate your symptoms and take a detailed medical history. They will ask questions about your pain, including its location, when it occurs, what makes it better or worse, and if it stays in one area or spreads to other parts of your body.

They will also examine your head, neck, face, and jaw for tenderness; jaw clicking or popping; or difficulty with movement. The dentist might also suggest imaging studies such as an x-ray, MRI or CT scan. Pain in the mouth, jaw, or face may or may not be related to TMDs. Your dentist may have to rule out other conditions before diagnosing a TMD.

What treatments are available for TMD?

Because many jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple, non-surgical TMD treatment may be all that is necessary. When you first feel discomfort in your jaw joints or muscles, your dentist may have you:

  • Eat soft foods
  • Apply heat or cold packs to the face in combination with exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles gently
  • Take over-the-counter medications, for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
  • Reduce habits such as jaw clenching, gum chewing, or nail biting

If these steps do not help, or if your dentist diagnoses a specific type of TMD in the process of trying them, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended.

  • If your teeth or bite are misaligned, we may recommend orthodontics
  • To relieve bruxism, we may offer injectable muscle relaxants to relax the muscles, ease tension in the jaw and mouth and prevent clenching or grinding during the night, resulting in fewer headaches and less pain while helping to prevent wear and damage to your teeth.
  • We offer repositioning splints for mild sleep apnoea sufferers [link to night splints page]. The splints are designed to prop the mouth in a certain way to help you breathe during the night.