A clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth can be annoying. But if it’s also painful, you might be suffering from temporomandibular disorder, or TMD disorder (often called TMJ). The good news is that a dentist can diagnose and provide TMD treatment to help relieve TMD symptoms.
TMD pain results from dental problems specific to the jaw. Simple movements such as opening and closing our mouths, chewing, speaking and swallowing are all made possible by the collaborative work of the different parts of the jaw. When any one part doesn’t perform as expected, you may experience TMD pain.
If you’ve been suffering with TMD symptoms, now is the time to learn all you can about TMD disorder.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes TMD disorder, but studies show that some factors may lead to TMD symptoms. TMD pain is linked with injury to the jaw or muscles of the head and neck, and diseases like arthritis in the jaw area. Women of childbearing age are said to be affected more by TMD disorder than older men and women.
Bruxism may also aggravate TMD symptoms as it puts a lot of pressure on jaw joints. Stress contributes to TMD pain as tension leads to tightened facial muscles and clenched teeth. An uneven bite is also linked with TMD disorder.
Got TMD pain? See a dentist if you experience any of the following TMD symptoms for more than a week:
- Pain in the face or jaw area
- Toothaches or headaches that cannot be relieved with toothache remedies or over-the-counter medications
- Earaches and pain in or around your ear when chewing
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Inability to open your mouth wide
- Jaw locking, whether open or closed
- Unusual sounds in your jaw like clicking, popping or grating when opening or closing your mouth
- An uncomfortable bite that feels like your upper and lower jaw don’t quite fit together
Only a dentist can say for sure if you have TMD disorder after a detailed check of your dental and medical history and a clinical exam. The dentist may also make a mold of your teeth to see if a problem with your bite is causing your TMD symptoms. If he or she feels you need further diagnosis or TMD treatment, you may be referred to an oral surgeon. TMD treatment is rarely invasive.
If you are diagnosed with TMD disorder, your dentist can recommend the best dental treatment. Instead, TMD treatment usually includes any of the following:
- Stretching exercises for your jaw
- Stress-reducing exercises
- Medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs as well as prescription-only drugs like muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants
- A splint or night guard to prevent teeth from clenching and grinding
- Corrective dental treatments to fix a malocclusion
Most TMD symptoms are temporary and do not get worse. To help relieve TMD pain, try these simple self-help TMD treatment tips:
Stay away from hard and crunchy foods.
Do not chew gum.
Avoid extreme jaw movements such as yelling or singing.
Maintain proper posture. For example, don’t rest your chin on your hand or hold your phone between your ear and your shoulder.
If you suffer from TMD pain, a great dentist can help you get relief.