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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMD, occurs when there are problems with the muscles and jaws in the face. Some of the most common TMD symptoms include:
• Pain in the face, jaw or ear area
• Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes
• A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
• Jaw that ""gets stuck,"" locked or goes out of place
• Tenderness of the jaw muscles
• Trouble chewing or biting
• Swelling of the face
• A sudden change in the person’s dental occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth fit together)
HOW IS TMD DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis of TMD is done by a general physician who would ask you to open and shut your jaws. Alongside they may also suggest an X-ray to check for bone problems.
HOW IS TMD TREATED?
While there is no single cure for TMD, there are different treatments that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. The dentist may recommend one or more of the following:
• Trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.
• Reducing the harmful effects of clenching and grinding by wearing a night guard or splint. Custom-made to fit your mouth, the device slips over the upper teeth and keeps them from grinding against the lower teeth.
• Learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw.
• Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) uses low-level electrical currents to relax joint and facial muscles and provide relief.
• A dentist may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling.
DID YOU KNOW?
TMD affects the 'chewing' muscles and the joints between the lower jaw and the base of the skull.