Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) — you have one on each side of your face — are the joints that attach your jaw to your skull. When you have a condition that affects your TMJ or the muscles that support the joint, you have a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Experts estimate that as many as 10 million Americans have some form of TMD.
At Lancaster Dental Care Associates, located in Lancaster, California, our highly trained providers have helped many people with TMD. The disorder is chronic and sometimes difficult to recognize. That’s why you need an expert if you’re experiencing unusual symptoms. Here, we describe some of the common signs and symptoms associated with TMD.
The pain caused by TMD can take many forms, and you may not realize that it’s stemming from your jaw. Pain, tenderness, or aching in your jaw may be an obvious symptom, but you might also feel the pain throughout your face and be unable to pinpoint the source. You may have pain in one TMJ or both.
You may have trouble chewing, moving your jaw, or both. Your jaw may “lock” into place, making it difficult to open or close your mouth. You may even experience the pain of TMD as an earache or feel a clicking and popping in your jaw.
Potential causes of TMD
Joints are more complex than many of us realize. In addition to two bones meeting, there’s cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding joints so they can move smoothly and be supported. The TMJ has a small pad that acts as a cushion.
That pad can become misaligned or begin to degenerate, which affects the movement of your jaw and may cause TMD symptoms. Damage to the cartilage around your TMJ can also cause pain. Trauma and arthritis are common causes of damage to the cartilage of the TMJ.
Who is mostly like to have TMD
Women who take oral birth control or supplemental estrogen are more likely to develop TMD than others, and younger people are affected more often than older people. Frequently, though, TMD develops without any discernible reason or due to a combination of factors. Other possible risk factors include:
- Having arthritis of any type
- Having a connective tissue disease
- Chronic bruxism, or teeth grinding
- Having had an injury to your jaw
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with our team today.
Getting care for TMD
Seeking medical care for jaw pain or other unusual symptoms is a good first step to resolving it. At Lancaster Dental Care Associates our dentists and staff understand TMJ and TMD and can recognize the source of your problem right away.
We suggest a treatment plan based on what’s causing your pain. You can expect a thorough exam, as well as a discussion of your symptoms and medical history. Schedule an appointment today!