Posted: October 10th, 2019 Category:Persistent headaches or jaw discomfort may be signs that you have a temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. Find out more about the symptoms and the many ways TMD can be treated. The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is the spot on either side of your face where the jawbone connects to the skull. Between the two bones is a soft cartilage disk, which functions as a cushion and allows the jaw to smoothly open and close like a well-oiled hinge. When your jaw is working is working properly, you hardly even notice it. But there are a variety of jaw problems — from improper occlusion (the contact between teeth) to issues with the musculature of the face and neck — that can lead to temporomandibular disorders, or TMD.
What Is TMD?TMD refers to a variety of painful symptoms affecting the jaw joint and the muscles that allow you to open and close your jaw. While the exact cause of TMD can be difficult to determine — it’s affected by a variety of factors, including your genetics, previous injuries, and dental history — there are a few common ways a disorder can develop:
- The cartilage cushion between the jaw and the skull gets worn down or slips out of place.
- Conditions such as arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, especially) or connective tissue diseases damage the cartilage.
- A blow or injury damages the joint.
- Chronic teeth grinding or clenching strains the jaw and leads to damage over time.
What Are the Symptoms?The following may be signs that you have a jaw disorder:
- You’re experiencing pain or tenderness in the jaw or temporomandibular joints.
- You have an aching pain located in or around your ear and face.
- Chewing has become difficult or painful.
- Your jaw locks, or you’re having difficulty opening or closing your mouth.
- You feel a clicking or grating sensation when you chew.
- Your teeth feel like they aren’t lining up properly.