Understanding Temporal Mandibular Disorder

If your dentist has diagnosed you with TMD, you do not need to be concerned. You just need to get into treatment as soon as possible. The following is an overview of TMD.

What Is TMD?

The hinge that connects your jaws to the skull is called the temporomandibular joint. It allows jaw movement, enabling you to talk and chew. Problems with the muscles on your face and jaw that control your temporomandibular joint are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Causes of TMD

It is not clear what causes TMD. However, if you injured your jaw, muscles of the head or neck due to a blow or forceful impact, this can cause TMD.

Other causes include:

  • Stress that causes you to clench your teeth or tighten jaw and facial muscles
  • Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint


TMD causes severe discomfort and pain. It could be temporary or go for a few years. It could affect one side or both sides of your face. It is common between the ages of 20-40 years.

The main symptoms are:

  • Problems when opening your mouth wide
  • Pain in your face, neck, shoulders, jaw joint and around the ear every time you speak, chew or open your mouth
  • Jaws that lock or get stuck when your mouth is opened or closed
  • A grating, clicking and popping sound in the temporal mandibular joint when chewing or moving your mouth.
  • Swelling on your face
  • An uncomfortable bite, like the lower and upper teeth do not fit together
  • Headaches, earaches, ringing in the ears, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, neck aches and dizziness

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your dentist will inquire about your health background and perform a physical exam. They will examine your jaw joints to check whether they are tender or if you feel pain. They will also listen for clicks, grating and popping sounds as you move your jaws. Your dentist will test your bite and determine whether your jaw is locking when you close or open your mouth.

Your dentist may perform a full face X-ray to examine your temporomandibular joints, teeth and jaws. They may also perform a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) to see if your TMJ disc is properly positioned.


Depending on the cause and symptoms of your TMD, your dentist may recommend:

  • Dental work: You may have missing teeth replaced. Your dentist will use braces, crowns and bridges to correct your bite. 
  • Ultrasound: When deep heat is applied to the temporomandibular joint, it improves mobility and relieves soreness.
  • Radio wave therapy: The use of radio waves is meant to stimulate the joint in order to ease pain and increase blood flow.
  • Laser therapy: It reduces pain and inflammation. It allows you to open your mouth better and move your neck freely.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (also known as TENS): Uses electrical currents for providing pain relief though relaxing the joints of your jaw and facial muscles.

For more information, contact a dental specialist like The Caring Dental Team.