Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Millions of North Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD.

TMD describes a variety of conditions that affect jaw muscles, the temporomandibular (jaw) joint and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Symptoms may occur on one or both sides of the face, head or jaw. Pain in and around this joint can be unpleasant and intense, and can even restrict movement, limiting the ability to open the jaw.

Trauma to the jaw or jaw joint can sometimes be a contributing factor in TMD, but in many cases the cause of the disorder is not clear. Most experts suggest that certain mental or physical tasks or challenges (such as being in a stressful situation) may elicit or aggravate TMD. The discomfort of headaches and neck pain can be caused by overuse of the jaw muscles, specifically through clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism).

Symptoms of TMD include:
• Jaw pain or soreness around the jaw joint
• Jaw pain when chewing, biting or yawning
• Frequent headaches or neck pain
• Muscle spasms in the jaw area
• Clicking or popping when opening and closing the mouth
• Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
• A locked or stiff jaw when talking, yawning or eating
• Sensitive teeth with no apparent cause
• Pain, ringing or stuffiness in the ear without an infection
• A change in the alignment of the top and bottom teeth

If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend a comprehensive temporomandibular joint (TMJ) examination to determine the appropriate course of treatment.

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