Have you been having persistent and nagging headaches? Then you might consider booking an appointment with your dentist. It could be that you have temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD.
What is TMD?
This condition involves the tissues surround the temporomandibular joint, TMJ, including jaw muscles and nerves. TMD is characterized by discomfort and pain which can either be acute or persist intermittently for months and even years. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the symptoms of TMD can arise during stressful situations.
What are the different forms of TMD?
There are three categories of TMD. Of the three, the most common form is myofacial pain which manifests itself as pain emanating from the jaw muscles. Because these muscles are involved in the movement of the jaws, opening your mouth or chewing can trigger pain. The second form is internal derangement which happens when the joint has a displaced disc or if the jaw has become dislocated. Internal derangement can also occur when the “hinge” structure of the lower jaw becomes damaged. Finally, the onset of arthritis can lead to the inflammation of the joint and cause the symptoms of TMD.
Who is prone to TMD?
According to the latest statistics, around 10 million Americans suffer from TMD. However, up to 85 percent of the entire population will go through the disorder at least once in their entire lifetime. Women are more susceptible to TMD compared to men. At the same time, individuals aged 20 to 40 are likelier to get the disorder than other age groups.
What are the signs and symptoms of TMD?
The cardinal symptom of TMD is pain which radiates from the chewing muscles or the jaw joint itself. This symptom may be enough for a dentist to diagnose the existence of TMD. However, there are other signs and symptoms which could point to the condition. For instance, patients may have sore jaws in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sufferers may also notice a clicking or popping sound whenever they open or close their mouth, and swelling in either side of the face. It’s usual for TMD sufferers to have a hard time eating or talking.
Other unique but rather misleading symptoms of TMD include the presence of earache without known infection and teeth sensitivity even if there are no cavities or abscess. Bite changes may also be a subtle sign that you have TMD.
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