The abbreviation stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is responsible for joining your jawbone to your skull and performs important functions such as helping you to chew. If the action of chewing is painful, you may be suffering from what is called TMD or temporomandibular disorder.
TMD may be triggered by various causes such as a tightly clenched jawbone, stress or grinding of teeth. TMD requires dental treatment.
You know you suffer from TMD if you display one or more of these symptoms:
- Pain during mouth movement like opening or closing
- Chewing becomes challenging
- You begin to suffer from ear or head aches
- You begin to grind your teeth
- Difficulty in moving the jaw; the jaw may be tightly open or shut
- Every time you try and move your jaw, you are able to hear popping or grinding noises
The first step to ascertain if the symptoms are indeed being caused by TMD because the symptoms may also be caused by other health reasons. Teeth grinding is particularly difficult problem. When you grind your teeth (the condition is called ‘bruxism’), the enamel on your teeth wears out and leaves the more delicate ‘dentin’ (softer enamel) exposed.
A typically symptom when dentin is exposed is enhanced sensitivity to hot and cold eatables. Dentin, being softer, is more liable to develop decay.
If you manifest any of these symptoms and suspect that you may have developed TMD, you must make an appointment with your local dentist. They will be able to confirm if you have TMD and can also help relieve your pain by prescribing pain medication or using hot/cold compresses. Another solution for teeth grinding (which most often happens subconsciously during night sleep hours) is to wear a protective night guard. You may be recommended behavioral suggestions to reduce stress that in turn will alleviate symptoms of TMJ.
In cases of advanced TMJ symptoms, your dentist may recommend surgery.