What is temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research classifies TMD by the following:

  • Myofascial pain. This is the most common form of TMD. It results in discomfort or pain in the fascia (connective tissue covering the muscles) and muscles that control jaw, neck and shoulder function.
  • Internal derangement of the joint. This means a dislocated jaw or displaced disk, (cushion of cartilage between the head of the jaw bone and the skull),  or injury to the condyle (the rounded end of the jaw bone that articulates with the temporal skull bone).
  • Degenerative joint disease. This includes osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint.

You can have one or more of these conditions at the same time.

What are the signs and symptoms of TMD?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of TMD:

  • Jaw discomfort or soreness (often most prevalent in the morning or late afternoon)
  • Headaches
  • Pain spreading behind the eyes, in the face, shoulder, neck, and/or back
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears (not caused by an infection of the inner ear canal)
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Limited mouth motions
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity of the teeth without the presence of an oral health disease
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

The symptoms of TMD may look like other conditions or medical problems. See a dentist or your doctor for a diagnosis. *

 

*Information taken from hopkinsmedicine.org