The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that exists between your jaw and the temporal bones of your skull. It enables you to chew, talk and yawn by moving your jaw up, down, left and right. If the TMJ gets damaged, it can cause localized pain known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Research conducted by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research shows that approximately 10 million Americans suffer from TMD. Moreover, women are more susceptible to this condition than men.
Causes of TMD
TMD has various possible causes, making it tricky to diagnose. According to dentists, it can arise due to injury to your joint, jaw, or muscles of your head and neck. Here are some common causes of TMD:
Researchers are investigating why TMD is more common in women than men by looking for a possible connection between TMD and the female hormone estrogen. Some causes may be linked to lifestyle or habits. For example, violinists are especially prone to TMD as their work involves holding a violin under their jaw.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD symptoms depend upon the severity of your condition. Some of the most frequently experienced ones include:
If you have TMD, you are likely to experience pain when moving your jaw. You may also experience headaches, migraines, neck ache, backache, earache or pain near the ears that travels to the cheeks. If pain does not seem to be near the jaw, your doctor would probably investigate other symptoms before diagnosing a TMD.
These are painless signs, and include clicking, popping and grinding sounds that may occur when talking, eating or opening the mouth. Not all sounds are symptoms of TMD as jaw noises are fairly common. Only when the sounds emanate along with some pain or with limited jaw movement is when medical advice may be required. Ringing, buzzing, or numbness in the ears may also occur along with earaches, which can all be signs of TMD.
This refers to limited jaw movement that prevents the mouth from opening completely and the jaw from being moved in specific directions. Such limitations may cause serious discomfort or pain in daily life. If you are experiencing some of the common symptoms associated with this condition, your dentist will likely go through your medical history and conduct a physical examination to diagnose the causes. In case you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, schedule an appointment with us at Cooley Smiles by calling us at (425) 249-3509 today.