young boxer reacts to a hard hit with a glove to his faceIt started as a clicking or popping sound when chewing gum or eating a cheeseburger, and has now developed into dull pain on one or both sides of your jaw. What’s happening? If you’ve been experiencing this and other jaw related symptoms on and off for awhile, then you may have TMD.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), also known as TMJ, is an umbrella term used to categorize several dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint. Because the temporomandibular joint functions as a hinge between the mouth and the skull, symptoms can vary in their severity and how they manifest. If you do suspect you have TMD, however, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as the disorder can be degenerative, worsening over time and affecting quality of life.

What Causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by a number of things. Trauma to the jaw or joint, likely from whiplash or from falling, can crate symptoms, but also a number of other things, such as grinding or clenching teeth, and stress.

What Are Other Symptoms?

While symptoms such as jaw pain, clicking or popping noises while chewing, and lockjaw are commonly recognized as TMD symptoms, there several less common indications. Tinnitus, usually referred to as ringing in the ears, can often be misdiagnosed in regards to TMD. The common thread linking tinnitus to TMD is the position of the temporomandibular joint, and its relationship to the ear canals. Because the joint supports several muscle groups associated with the ears, any disruption of the joint can trigger other malfunctions in the surrounding structures.

More less common symptoms can include:

  • Tingling fingers
  • Restricted movement in the jaw
  • Headaches or migraines

Headaches related to TMD can be caused by jaw muscles tightening, putting tension on the skull.

How is TMD Treated?

There are several non-invasive and drug-free treatments for TMD. As one of the main causes of TMD is stress, using a treatment such as the NuCalm relaxation system can be incredibly effective. The NuCalm relaxation system uses your brain’s natural relaxation mechanism to help you achieve a deep state of relaxation, minimising teeth grinding and soothing the jaw muscles. Combined with oral appliances that can help to reposition your jaw into a more ergonomic position, a dentist can help you limit pain and help your body to repair itself.

If you’re concerned about the symptoms above, you should schedule an appointment immediately. Please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment with an Anchorage TMJ dentist at Excellence in Dentistry.