Painful conditions that afflict the joint of the jaws, called the “temporomandibular joint”, and the muscles attached to it are called Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs).

Do you have the following?

  • Frequent headaches

  • Earaches

  • Dull ache in facial muscles

  • Tenderness in the jaw joints

  • Deviation of the mouth to one side on opening the mouth

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the joints

  • Difficulty in opening the mouth, or pain when doing it

  • Pain while chewing or yawning

  • Locked jaw 

If you have any of the above, you may be suffering from a TMD. Go to your dentist for a clinical exam of the joints and muscles. Your dentist may make diagnostic casts of your teeth to see if there are problems with your bite. Special x-rays of the joint can also be taken.

Causes of TMDs:-

  • Trauma to the head or jaws

  • Arthritis of the joints

  • Teeth grinding habit

  • Stress etc.

Why Do You Have Pain?

Temporomandibular joints help you open and close your mouth. They also allow you to move your jaws in various directions. They are complex joints involving muscles, cartilages, ligaments and bones, which require harmonious movement of all components for harmonious function. When problems arise in one or all, TMD develops.

Managing TMDs

TMDs are mostly managed instead of cured. Your dentist may even refer you to a physician or specialist for your joint problem. The thing to remember is that if not treated, the condition can and will get worse.

There are many different ways of managing TMDs, but the usual protocol is to start with conservative management and then proceed to more complex procedures if they don’t work.

What Can You Do?

  • Eat soft food

  • Avoid overstretching the joint muscles through activities like yelling, yawning etc.

  • Use ice or hot packs to get pain relief

  • Avoid chewing gums

  • Relax yourself with practices like meditation etc.

Your dentist can even prescribe pain medications if the condition is too severe, or teach you jaw exercises to strengthen the muscles. Nightguards are given to people with grinding habit. Sometimes you may also be referred to an orthodontist if the disorder is caused by a bad bite.

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