Dental Guides

5 signs that you're experiencing TMD (temporomandibular disorder)

Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD for short, is a painful and potentially serious muscle and joint disorder that affects the jaw as well as the muscles and joints connected to it. TMD affects up to 15% of adults and can be a very painful and sometimes serious condition.

Numerous underlying conditions can cause TMD, including arthritis, chronic teeth grinding, and injury. Unfortunately, TMD shares symptoms with other conditions, making it difficult to diagnose. Dentists may need to take x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and conduct a range of physical diagnostic tests.

Let’s review five signs that may indicate that you’re suffering from TMD. Should you be suffering from one or more of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor or another oral health expert.

TMD Sign #1- A Popping or Clicking Jaw

One of the more common signs that you’re suffering from TMD and not just a sore jaw is a popping or clicking sound. Move your jaw around. Do you hear a distinct popping or clicking? If so, there is a serious risk that the cartilage connecting your jaw to the rest of your skull has been damaged.

Of course, it is possible that the popping sound is just a random occurrence. It may shortly go away and never happen again. If your jaw is popping or clicking on a regular basis, however, there’s an increased chance that you’re suffering from TMD. As such, you should seek medical attention.

TMD Sign #2- Pain in the Jaw and Face

With TMD, pain often spreads beyond the jaw. Do you feel pain in your cheeks and up to the front of your ears? Your jaw is connected to muscles that extend across much of your skull, all of which can be affected by TMD. In some cases, TMD may even cause pain behind the eyes.

The pain caused by TMD ranges from mild to severe, with severe pain indicating a potentially serious problem. Keep in mind that mild pain caused by TMD can worsen into severe and even debilitating pain if left unaddressed. As such, addressing even mild pain may prove vital.

TMD Sign #3- Migraines and Headaches

Often, the pain caused by TMD goes beyond even the muscles and joints in your skull. TMD can cause headaches and even severe migraines. If your jaw and muscle pain is accompanied by headaches, you may be suffering from severe TMD. Since these aches are caused by an underlying condition, they can be more difficult to treat with the usual remedies, such as aspirin.

TMD Sign #4- Locking Jaw

In more severe cases, your jaw may lock up. Obviously, this will create many other complications. Usually simple things, like talking and chewing, may become all but impossible. In a worst case scenario, surgery may be required, although less invasive treatments may also work.

TMD Sign #5- Uncontrollable and Frequent Twitching

Finally, another sign that you’re experiencing TMD is twitching in the muscles connected to your jaw. This twitching will normally occur around the chin, cheeks, and jaw and can be very uncomfortable. Keep in mind that twitching does not always occur with TMD and is, in fact, among the rarer symptoms. Twitching may also be caused by other conditions not related to TMD.

What To Do If You’re Experience the Above TMD Symptoms

TMD can be a serious and even debilitating condition. If you are experiencing the above symptoms, you should talk to your dentist or TMJ specialist if possible. Treatment now could save you from painful complications in the future.

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