Craniofacial & Joint Therapy

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear.  It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). But you may hear it wrongly called TMJ, after the joint.

What Causes TMD?

We don’t know for sure what causes TMD. Dentists believe symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of

the joint itself.

Trauma or microtrauma to the jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck — like from a heavy blow or whiplash — can lead to TMD. Other causes include:

-Grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint.

-Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball

 and socket of the joint.

-Arthritis in the joint

-Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles

 or clench the teeth.

Dr. Smith is a Diplomate with the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine

What Are the Symptoms?

TMD often causes severe pain and discomfort. It can be temporary or last many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face. More women than men have it, and it’s most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide

  • Problems when you try to open your mouth wide

  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position

  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.

  • A tired feeling in your face

  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite — as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly

  • Swelling on the side of your face

  • You may also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

How Do You Relieve the Pain?

Patients who are heavy clenchers and bruxers may just need the posterior articulation disrupted. Using appliance like the ones pictures above we can do just that. We will make you a custom appliance that you will wear during the day and a separate one to wear at night.  Dr. Smith will listen to you and your needs to determine what treatment is best for your case and make the appliance or treatment that is right for you. Come in to our office, relax and let Dr. Smith and his well-trained staff help you relieve the pain.