Jaw Pain? What You Should Know About TMD And Getting Relief

Posted on: 12 November 2018

Has your jaw and mouth started aching? Hearing a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth? You're not alone. A significant number of your fellow Americans suffer from these same symptoms due to a medical problem commonly known as TMD. 

What is TMD? And how can you manage your symptoms? Here's a step-by-step guide to getting relief.

What TMD Is

TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This disorder affects the joints in your jaw, which is one of the most complex joints in the whole body. Joint pain often manifests in a regular, dull ache that comes on gradually and may cause head or neck aches. It may cause sharper pain, particularly when chewing or talking a lot. You may also experience clicking in the jaw below the ear or even a "locking" effect in your jaw when opening and closing your mouth.

Where to Start

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for TMD. Each case is handled individually with a treatment plan based on the symptoms you're dealing with. Your dentist will evaluate the workings of your jaw and joints to see what may be causing the TMD symptoms. He or she will also rule out other causes, such as jaw dislocation or arthritis. 

What You Can Do Now

The good news for many TMD sufferers is that there are a number of simple things that can help reduce symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers often help alleviate joint or headaches. Anti-inflammatories, such as NSAIDs, can also relieve pain by reducing inflammation in the painful joint, and muscle relaxers can help your jaw relax and prevent locking or clenching. 

One of the most common causes for TMD pain is clenching or grinding the teeth — usually at night — so your dentist may fit you with a bite guard to wear at night. This helps many patients. Physical therapy can also help sufferers reduce grinding and clenching. 

What Further Options You Have

What should you do if these options aren't providing relief from your particular symptoms? Discuss with your dentist what additional diagnostic and surgical treatments may work well in your case. The doctor or dentist may lubricate the joints or remove debris. Some people also find help from corticosteroid injections or even surgery to correct jaw misalignment. Your dentist can help you learn more about the best ways to proceed.

TMD is a chronic issue, but you can manage and alleviate symptoms that affect your daily life. If you suspect you may have TMD, talk to your dentist today about a dental treatment plan tailor-made for you.