Understanding TMD and Your Treatment Options

McLean TMD

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD, is a common issue that many patients can experience. Regardless of age, TMD can arise in an individual after trauma, stress, anatomic abnormalities or simple wear and tear. Fortunately, modern medicine has made treatment more successful and available for patients struggling with TMD. If you or a loved one has TMD, learn more about the disorder and treatment options. Read on below and contact My McLean Dentist today. 

Understanding TMD

What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder? Understanding TMD begins with learning about the actual temporomandibular joint. In basic terms, this joint connects the lower jaw with the skull and is located by both ears. It allows the lower jaw to open and close. For example, the joint allows us to chew, talk, yawn, and so forth. Over time, the joint can wear. It can also become damaged after an injury. In these situations, patients may notice pain in the joint area and/or clicking or popping sounds during jaw movement. 

TMD is not the same for every patient. Some may notice minor discomfort or clicking sounds. While others may have severe pain and/or jaw locking. Symptoms may include the following.

  • Jaw pain
  • Facial pain
  • Shoulder, neck, or back pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Jaw locking
  • Inability to open jaw naturally or widely
  • Clicking or popping sounds
  • Pain or discomfort near the ear
  • Bruxism (teeth clenching and/or grinding)

TMD | Woman smiling

Diagnosing TMD

Symptoms can appear as other health issues. For this reason, it is highly recommended to seek a consultation from a TMD specialist. Diagnosing the disorder includes a thorough medical history review, a comprehensive dental and jaw exam, and possibly X-rays. These procedures allow the doctor to fully understand your current condition and recommend your best treatment options.

Treating TMD

Treatment will vary from patient to patient. This is due to the fact that TMD affects patients differently. Some cases may be mild and others more severe. Nonetheless, seeking treatment is important to avoid future complications and improving your quality of life.

Treatment may include:

  • Orthotic devices
  • Pain relief techniques such as warm/cold packs and medication
  • Therapy
  • Diet changes
  • Surgery, if  severe

Some cases of TMD could be stress-related. It is possible to practice destressing techniques to decrease or even eliminate the disorder. These techniques will vary as patients may experience stress for a variety of reasons. Sometimes allowing yourself time to relax helps significantly. Try the following destressing techniques:

  • Meditation
  • Healthy dieting
  • Exercise
  • Arts and crafts
  • Breathing techniques

Learn More

As mentioned above, TMD could be mild or severe. Patients with symptoms are encouraged to contact My McLean Dentist for an exam and consultation. Our team is experienced and will offer you the best treatment options available. New and existing patients may call 703-912-0575 or book an appointment online. Our office also offers a variety of dental services for patients of all ages including pediatric, general, and cosmetic. Additionally, we have the latest technology such as CEREC Same-Day Crowns and digital imaging. We look forward to meeting you soon.