Understanding TMD Disorders

Updated at: Jan 30, 2013
Understanding TMD Disorders
Editorial Team
Other DiseasesWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 30, 2013



People with TMD usually have severe pain and discomfort that can be temporary or chronic.


The common symptoms that accompany TMD include:

  • Inability to open the mouth very wide
  • Locking of the jaw i.e. the jaws get "stuck" or "locked" in the open- or closed-mouth position.
  • Tired feeling in the face or swelling on the side of the face
  • Toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches and hearing problems are some other common symptoms that accompany TMJ dysfunction



Causes of TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Bad bite or malocclusion of teeth,
  • Stress, grinding or clenching the teeth. This puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ and can tire the jaw muscles and lead to pain.
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of the TMJ
  • But in most cases there may not be a clear cause.

Tests and diagnosis


Several other conditions such as a toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease can cause symptoms similar to TMD. Your doctor will take a comprehensive history and do a complete clinical examination to determine the cause of your symptoms.


X-rays will be taken to view the entire jaw, TMJ, and teeth to ensure that some other problem is not causing your symptoms.


You may be advised consultation with an oral surgeon (also called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon) for further care and treatment.




Your doctor may recommend:

  • Biteplate for your teeth to improve your upper and lower jaw alignment if your bite is out of alignment
  • Night guard over your teeth if you have a tendency to grind your teeth in sleep
  • Stress reduction techniques or cognitive behavioral therapy if you clench your jaw due to stress



Your doctor may prescribe one the following medications for pain relief:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen to relieve pain.
  • Minor tranquilizers or muscle relaxants such as chlorzoxazone, methocarbamol, diazepam at bedtime to lessen spasms and ease pain
  • Local anesthetic injections to relieve pain.
  • Corticosteroid injections, for severe pain

Surgery: Surgery is advised if the medical measures fail to control pain. The three types of surgery for TMD are arthrocentesis, arthroscopy and open-joint surgery. Your doctor will advise the type of surgery needed depending on your TMD problem.


Alternative Therapies


Several complementary and alternative therapies have been found to be beneficial for relieving pain in TMD.

Nutrition and Supplements: Some supplements that may help to ease pain in TMD include Glucosamine (500 mg three times per day), Vitamin C (500 mg two times per day), Calcium (250 mg two times per day) and magnesium (125 mg two times per day) .

Herbal supplements such as Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) and lobelia (Lobelia inflata), Acupuncture, Craniosacral Therapy, Massage and chiropractic manipulation may help decrease muscle spasms, provide pain relief, and prevent recurrence of symptoms.


Home remedies


TMJ dysfunction can be treated with nondrug self-care strategies such as:

  • Changing your eating habits (like cut foods into small pieces, avoid excess chewing)
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Doing exercises that stretch the muscles around your jaw



Try to reduce your stress and tension to keep yourself from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw....


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