Signs and symptoms of TMD

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I want to tell all of you out there who have been reading my blogs that I appreciate it very much and it means a lot that ‘you’ would take the time to read them.

The series “Let’s get to the root of the problem” was just that: a series…the subject matter was too broad to discuss properly with just one entry. The same applies to the subject of TMD. This is why I have divided it up into different categories which I hope you will find easy to understand.

As mentioned in the blog “Anatomy of the TMJ” the only way for the jaw to open is if the right and left TMJ function together in harmony. The simple action of opening your mouth occurs as the jaw is lowered and both TMJ’s rotate at the same time. It is possible to raise 1 leg or 1 arm and not the other, but it doesn’t work this way with both of the TMJ’s on either side of the skull. If there is an injury to one side of the skull, the muscles (see anatomy of the TMJ) are usually traumatized and don’t function properly. So if one side doesn’t move as it should, then when you try to open, the jaw won’t open properly. The articular disc (which is the cushion-like structure in between the jaw and skull) of the traumatized joint is also usually affected.

The following are the signs and symptoms of TMD:

1) Jaw pain: occurs usually when you open and close, but may also be when the jaw is at rest. The pain is prolonged and is a deep dull ache.

2) Headache: the muscles (temporalis and masseter) are in a state of contraction and this can lead to a long term headache . There can also be pain in the facial muscles during speaking, chewing and swallowing. This can also end up affecting muscles of the neck and shoulders.

3) Jaw noises: range from clicking and popping to grinding and grating noises.
Clicking and popping noises are considered normal. It is just the articular disc which is the shock absorber between the skull and jaw bone (see anatomy of the TMJ) ‘snapping’ forward as the jaw opens and then backwards again as it closes.

Grinding and grating noises however, indicate a breakdown of the ‘condyle’, which is the bone that connects the jaw to the skull. So, the grinding sound is due to the rubbing of two hard bony surfaces against one another. In addition to the bone breaking down at the joint, the grinding sound also occurs because the disc (or shock absorber) breaks down as well.

4) Difficulty opening and closing the jaw: If the joint is damaged, due to an injury, the disc is usually affected as well. It may begin to get ‘stuck’ so the joint can’t move properly and jaw movement becomes restricted…you are unable to open as much as you would like and you are limited to how much you can move your jaw from side to side.

5) Difficulty chewing and biting: Due to facial muscle pain it may be difficult to chew nuts, meat, gum and sticky foods, because these foods require the muscles to work hard and they are just too tired to do so. So it may be best to eat foods of a softer consistency.

In the next entry, we’ll look at the different ways to treat TMD…stay tuned!

If you have jaw pain, it could be that you’re suffering from TMD. Treatment for TMD is as close as Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry in Brampton, Ontario. We can help. Simply dial (905) 791-3867 today to book a consultation. We’re located at 40 Finchgate Blvd., Suite 121, in the heart of Brampton, Ontario.

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