Man experiencing temporomandibular joint painJaw Pain and TMJ Problems (TMD) in West Palm Beach

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a general term used to describe the jaw pain that is felt from the muscles that move the jaws (muscles of mastication) and the joint where the lower jaw inserts into the base of the skull (TMJ). The signs and symptoms of TMD can vary greatly from patient to patient and can be rather complex.

What are the signs and symptoms of TMD?

  • pain and tenderness when palpating these muscles or the joints. The pain can be greatly intensified by aggravating these areas by chewing and grinding (bruxism) and clenching the teeth.
  • most of the time the pain only affects one side. It can, however affect both sides on occasion.
  • you may find that your range of lower jaw movement is limited. This can make it more difficult to eat and even talk. Lock-jaw and stiffness of the jaw muscles and joints can occur, especially when you wake up in the morning. You may even notice that your lower jaw deviates to one side.
  • you may hear clicking and popping sounds from the joints affected
  • headaches
  • pain that radiates to the teeth, neck, or shoulders
  • pain that feels like it is coming from the ear canal or ringing of the ears (tinnitus)
  • feeling that somehow your bite is “off”

What can be done to prevent and treat TMD?

  • apply heat over tender muscles and apply cold over tender joints. At times, my patients choose to cool with ice packs first over both the muscles and joints for 5 minutes and then follow with heat for 15 minutes. This can be repeated several times a day.
  • occlusal splint (night guard)
  • occlusal equilibration (bite adjustment)
  • orthodontics (braces)
  • reconstructive treatment
  • a combination of the above

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