What is TMD?

Many people suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), or a disorder in the function or movement of the jaw.  There are many signs and symptoms that can occur with this disorder which can include ongoing headaches, migraines, ear pain, jaw pain, clicking and popping of the jaw joint, soreness or stiffness in the neck and back or even tinnitus or ringing in your ears. It’s hard to imagine all of those symptoms for one disorder.

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) serves an important role in a lot of functions like eating, swallowing, breathing and maintaining a proper bite.  According to some sources, the fastest growing segment of TMD sufferers is between the ages of 20 and 40. The TMJ Association conducted a study that concluded 41 was the average age and mostly women (90%) suffered from TMD.  The impact is widespread.

What Causes TMD?

TMD is a chronic, degenerative disease.  One of the most common reasons that TMD develops is an improper bite or the way your teeth come together.  This can start at a young age during your development years.  Many children have undiagnosed allergies which can lead to mouth breathing, which can have a huge negative effect on the development of the face and jaws.  Improper diet and pollutants in our environment can also have a negative effect on development.  If you notice your child breathing through their mouth during the day or while sleeping, or if they snore, they should be evaluated by a properly trained dentist.

What Can I Do About TMD?

If you only notice the pain once in a while, you can try moist heat or cold packs and take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen to relieve the pain. You can eat more soft foods and do some gentle stretching exercises. This will help with the pain, but doesn’t get rid of the cause of the symptoms, which is the bad bite.

At Dental Touch Associates of Cedar Rapids, IA, we practice neuromuscular dentistry where we work with getting the muscles relaxed and to a comfortable position using advanced technology and training.  Sometimes we will make an orthotic (a special type of mouthguard) or move your teeth around with orthodontics to help correct the bite.  If you’re suffering headaches or jaw pain, or need a dentist for any other reason, contact us today for an appointment.