Temporomandibular disorders are problems with the joint just in front of your ear where your jaw connects to the temporal bones in your skull. Very commonly people will incorrectly call TMD, TMJ after the joint instead of referring to the disorders. It hasn’t been determined with any certainty what exactly causes TMD in people, but there are lists of things that make you more susceptible to developing a disorder of that joint.
Some commonalities in patients that suffer from TMD include people who have experienced whiplash or a facial injury, arthritis in the joint, or clenching or grinding of the teeth extensively. Clenching or grinding is often caused by stress in many people. Statistically, more women than men experience these disorders.
There are a whole host of unpleasant symptoms of TMD. Many people experience pain or tenderness on one or both sides of the mouth. Popping, clicking, or other noises when opening or closing the mouth are common. Some people experience a locked jaw at some point whether in an open or closed mouth position. If the disorder gets bad enough, you may not be able to open your mouth much at all. Headaches frequently attend the disorder as well, because it has to do with the tightening and pressure of your mouth, jaw muscles, and pain in your face.
So what can you do? There are some things you can do at home to manage a temporomandibular disorder. Try taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory to keep inflammation down in your jaw muscles and alleviate pain. You can try applying a cold pack to the side of your face most affected, and try to eat soft foods. If a majority of your disorder come from clenching or grinding your teeth because of stress, practice relaxation techniques daily. Dentists may want to make a night guard for your teeth to help relieve pressure and grinding of your teeth at night.
You may be referred to a surgeon that is a specialist in facial surgery to look at surgical options if your TMD has progressed far enough. Many people believe this is the only option they have and are desperate enough to believe it after suffering from a disorder for as long as they have. It is NOT the only option. Many chiropractors can help with these disorders to relieve pain and restore full movement to the joint. Not only will it be less expensive than surgery, it also doesn’t require any down time, has less pain involved, and can have almost instant results. Talk to your chiropractor about options if you are dealing with TMD.