TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) is a condition related to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) which is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull, which is in front of your ear on each side of your head. This joint is what controls the movement of your jaw as you talk, chew, and yawn. TMD occurs when the jaw joint and surrounding muscles are causing pain when moving the jaw. There are several causes of TMD such as facial injury, grinding or clenching the teeth, uneven bite in which orthodontics may be needed, and other medical conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms include: pain when moving jaw, limited ability to open the mouth wide, jaws that seems to get stuck, and/or clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth. After treating several patients with this disorder, the main cause seems to be stress which causes a person to tighten facial and/or jaw muscles, clench or grind their teeth even in their sleep where they are not aware they are doing it until they wake up in the morning with a massive headache. TMD can be moderate to severe and temporary or long lasting and usually affect people between the ages 20-40. Many people suffered with TMD without proper diagnosis because there are times that TMD resembles the same symptoms of migraine headaches and masks the real problem which is TMJ joint.
In most cases, especially where stress, clenching, or grinding, a lab fabricated mouth guard (occlusal guard) is the most simple and cost effective treatment. Mouth guards are plastic mouthpieces that are custom made to fit over your teeth, preventing the lower and upper teeth from coming together and causing damage. When a TMD disorder patient does not undergo treatment of any kind, the symptoms cam become extremely worse and sometimes may require surgery. In most cases, with early intervention, surgery can be avoided. A few lifestyle changes such as eating soft foods, taking a low dose anti-inflammatory, avoiding stress and extreme jaw movements temporarily in conjunction with a mouth guard can make this a temporary problem with a permanent solution.