A temporomandibular disorder (TMD), often referred to as TMJ which is the temporomandibular joint, occurs due to issues with the jaw joint, jaw and the facial muscles surrounding that move the jaw and control chewing. Commonly mislabeled as TMJ, TMD typically causes much pain and discomfort in the jaw joint (TMJ) and also in the muscles that control the jaw’s movement. However, most of this pain is eased with self-managed care and a number of nonsurgical treatment options.


A direct cause of TMD is not clear, yet there are a number of symptoms that may surface due to problems with the jaw muscles or with parts of the joint itself. One of the most common causes of TMD comes from some type of whiplash or forceful blow where the neck and head muscles, jaw, or temporomandibular joint are injured. In addition to some sort of high impact, the following have been noted as possible causes of TMD:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the TMJ
  • The disc between the ball and socket or the soft cushion is dislocated
  • Clenching and/or grinding teeth, placing much pressure on the TMJ
  • Stress which tends to cause the tightening of facial and jaw muscles as well as the clenching of teeth

However, there is still no clear cause of TMD. Patients should be aware of acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint and speak to a dentist in order to develop a plan of action. To schedule an appointment today, contact James Family Dentistry at your earliest convenience.

Symptoms of TMJ (TMD)

Studies indicate that approximately 80 percent of people suffering from TMD experience heacahces, 40 percent of which feel facial pain as well. More often than not, pain will increase while opening and closing the mouth, due to jaw movement. Patients typically experience chronic symptoms and are advised to see a dentist sooner than later in order to begin treatment focused on eliminating triggering factors.

The following are some of the most common symptoms associated with TMD:

  • Earaches both in and around the ear
  • Facial pain
  • Tenderness and pain in the jaw
  • Problems chewing and/or discomfort while chewing
  • Jaw locks, making it difficult for the patient to open and close the mouth
  • Popping or clicking sounds in the jaw while opening and closing or chewing
  • Facial swelling
  • Feeling tired in the face

Determining whether or not a patient has TMD is complex due to the fact that there are a few dental conditions with similar symptoms. As such, patients experiencing the above symptoms are advised to see a dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will review the patient’s history, conduct a physical examination, and discuss specific issues in order to determine what is causing these symptoms to occur.

TMD (TMJ) Treatments

TMJ disorders can sometimes subside without the need for any type of treatment. However, there are many cases where the patient will need treatment to handle the persistent symptoms that negatively affect their day-to-day lives. Therefore, speaking with a dentist is absolutely essential to determine the most favorable plan of action.

Depending upon the patient’s specific symptoms, the dentist may be able to treat the pain without the need for surgery. The following are some of the medications that may be given to relieve the pain associated with TMD:

  • Pain reliever
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Tricyclic antidepressant
  • Sedative

In addition, these treatments may be paired with one of the following therapies:

  • Physical therapy
  • Bite guard (oral spint)
  • Counseling

If the above methods prove to be unsuccessful in reducing the patient’s pain, a doctor may choose to conduct one of the following procedures:

  • Injections (corticosteroid or botulinum toxin)
  • Arthrocentesis
  • Surgery to replace or repair the jaw joint

Patients who experience any type of jaw joint pain must become more aware of their tension-related habits. In doing so, they may be able to stop doing things such as grinding teeth, jaw clenching, and many of the other activities that increase the likelihood of TMJ.

To learn more about your symptoms and dental options, contact a West Palm Beach dentist today.