TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint, is where several jaw muscles work in harmony with the lower jaw joint for chewing, speaking and other jaw functions. TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Patients with TMD can have dysfunction of the jaw caused by internal joint pathology or muscle fatigue, leading to muscle spasms or swelling. Because both muscle spasm and joint pathology can coexist, the diagnosis can be difficult.
Jaw clenching or tooth grinding are examples of actions that can lead to pain and soreness of the jaw joint as muscles become overworked and parts of the joint become damaged or degenerated over time. Some individuals are simply born with jaw joint pathologies such as size discrepancies of the bone or muscles. Others develop jaw problems like a disk that pops out, difficulty opening and closing their mouth or overstretched muscles from trauma. Yet, almost all of us develop some symptoms of degenerative joint disease as we grow older. It would not be surprising if the jaw joint has arthritic changes along with other joints in the body.
Symptoms of TMD include:
Along with thorough examination, history and X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI, our specialists can determine what part of the joint is damaged. Treatments may include medication, mouth guards, stress management, corrective dental treatment, or surgery. We are prepared to refer to a TMJ/TMD specialist when appropriate.
Some home remedies include discovering how and when the condition began, establishing a muscle relaxation regimen, trying meditation techniques, massaging the muscles or eating soft foods.