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What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMD?

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What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMD?

The temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as the TMJ, is the joint that connects the skull to the jawbone. The TMJ is a unique and special joint. It serves several purposes resulting in the opening and closing of the mouth. Additionally, the joint performs its functions with a sliding motion known as translation, during which there is forward and downward movement of the lower jaw. This movement is seen when a person yawns, sings, laughs, etc. The most prevalent condition related to the TMJ is known as the temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Learn about TMD below and contact us for a consultation.

Symptoms of TMD

Symptoms include:

  • Facial pain, radiating to the jaw area that is unresponsive to pain medications
  • Misplaced or locked jaw
  • A popping or clicking sound when closing or opening the mouth
  • Swelling and tenderness of the face and jaw muscles
  • Persistent headache

The probability of any joint wearing or tearing is likely as these parts are used extensively. TMJ issues include fractures, swelling, and soreness, resulting in reduced movements and radiating pain. Other diseases associated with the TMJ, although rare is arthritis.

Additionally, pain may originate from the teeth, as experienced in teeth grinding and clenching. Stress can also be connected to abnormal jaw movement. Furthermore, only a qualified dentist can diagnose a patient with TMD and recommend treatment.

Management and Prevention

Routine dental check-ups will avert complications related to the TMJ. Should you have TMD, your dentist will recommend the best treatment options. For example, when teeth clenching and grinding occur at night time, orthotics are fabricated to avoid muscle spasms. This device reduces the damage to your teeth and relaxes your chewing muscles (masseter and temporalis). Orthotics are custom-made for comfort and best results. Patients only need the appliance on one arch, the top or bottom. Many patients prefer the bottom as it is more comfortable to wear. In addition, severe TMD may require surgery which is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Learn More

Overall, your dental health is important and treating TMD is highly recommended. Improve your dental health by scheduling an exam and consultation to learn about your unique situation. My McLean Dentist offers a variety of dental services including TMD treatment. Book your appointment online or call 703-356-4822. New patients are always accepted. We look forward to meeting you!


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