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Home > Dental Conditions > TMJ & TMD > TMJ & TMD Symptoms  > An Overview of TM Disorders
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An Overview of TM Disorders


Here is an overview of TM Disorders:

  • TM joint locking
  • TMJ clicking
  • Arthritis of the TMJ
  • TMJ dislocation
  • Masticatory myalgia
  • Trismus or spasm of the jaw

What Is a TMJ Problem?

A safe clicks and locks, but your jaw shouldn’t.

When a patient is said to have TMJ, they could have any one of a group of conditions that affects the function of the jaw. Another and better collective term is TMD, which means temporomandibular disorders. Actually the term TMJ is an abbreviation, which means temporomandibular joint or jaw joint, which does not always mean that the joint itself is the source of the problem.

If you have been told you have TMJ or TMD, it could mean you have a disk problem in the jaw, arthritis of the jaw joint, jaw muscles that are inflamed and painful, or one of about 15 other conditions which are known to disrupt jaw function.

Why Should I Be Concerned?

Most of the population has at least one sign of abnormal jaw function but only about 5 percent of the population actually has a problem for which they need to seek TMJ jaw surgery or other treatment. The common signs of abnormal jaw function are occasional jaw joint popping or clicking, occasional jaw muscle fatigue or even some pain when chewing tough food. If these signs are infrequent, they are not of great concern, but if they are frequent or if you experience a sudden inability to open wide, or have pain on chewing or opening, then a consultation with a knowledgeable dentist is in order.

What Types of Treatments Are Used to Treat TMD Problems?

Treatment is dependent on the diagnosis. Often a bite splint is made for a patient if the jaw is painful due to a strong clenching or grinding habit. If the jaw muscles or joints are painful (as seen with arthritis or myofascial pain), treatment may involve the use of medications or physical therapy. Occasionally, the jaw experiences intermittent locking due to an abnormal TMJ disk. This condition is treated with jaw joint manipulation or a procedure called arthrocentesis or joint lavage.

How Many People Have Pain Problems in Their Face or Jaw?

It is claimed in the literature that from 2 - 22 percent of the population have a clear TMD problem (the percentage depends on how the condition is defined).

Why Does my Jaw Click? Will It Get Worse and What Can I Do About It?

Studies of large populations have shown that approximately 40 percent of the general population has clicking noises in their TM joints. The causes of this clicking range from the disk being displaced to changes or roughening on the bony surfaces that occur as a normal adaptive reaction to biting stresses placed on the joints.

Since noises are so prevalent in a general population, they can be assumed to be part of a normal process of change that occurs in the joints. These studies have also indicated that less than 5 percent of those with noise have problems requiring treatment. If pain is associated with the noises, or if the joint seems to be tender or hurts with chewing, a consultation should be sought with a knowledgeable doctor.

Do you think you might have a problem with TMJ? Don't wait until it gets worse -call us at 1-866-970-0441 to find a great dentist today.

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