What You Need To Know About Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Patients often endure jaw joint pain thinking that it’s nothing more than a discomfort, without realizing that it may be a disorder needing to be addressed as soon as possible. Without knowing it, they may already be suffering from a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.

Here, we answer the most frequently asked questions about the disorder and explore the treatment options available.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a term used to represent a wide spectrum of disorders that can affect your jaw joints, articular disc, muscles or associated supporting structures that can prevent you from functioning properly due to jaw joint pain and limited jaw mobility.

TMD is commonly caused by chronic excessive pathological loading of the jaw joints beyond their natural regenerative and adaptive capacities, causing damage and degeneration of the biological structures.

Uncontrolled grinding and clenching of teeth are the common culprits, though the causes can be multifactorial and involve psychological stress.

Often, your jaw muscles can also be affected as they are overused and become painful, inflamed, or even be in a state of recurrent spasm.

How Will I Know If I Am Affected By It?

You may be suffering from this disorder if you:

  1. Experience pain around the side of your face, jaws, or ears that affects your wellbeing, limits your ability to chew your food, eat, or even speak properly
  2. Find that you cannot open your jaws fully because your joints seem to be obstructed, stiff, or locked in place
  3. Have painful clicking or popping noises from your jaw joints whenever you move or open your jaws

What Are The Treatment Options Available To Help Me With This Condition?

There are several, often used in conjunction, to help manage these disorders and return the biological structures to a state of health:

  1. Medications including anti-inflammatory analgesics and muscle relaxants
  2. Rest and physiotherapy, including the use of a bite splint for support and reduction of stress on the jaw joints and associated structures
  3. Surgery ranging from minimally invasive procedures to open joint surgeries and total joint replacement
  4. Injections to temporarily weaken the jaw muscles and reduce functional stress on the joints

So What Can I Do To Take Care Of My Jaw Joints In The Long Term If I Am Suffering From This Condition?

Lots of “R&R”! Rest and relaxation is important to reduce stress on the joints. Stress and lack of rest causes more damage, not just to the jaw joints but also to our overall well-being. Rehabilitation, physiotherapy, and the use of bite splints are commonly used in the management and prevention of TMD in the long run.

To discuss the treatment options for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, send us an inquiry or schedule a consultation with us.

Author: Dr. Clement Lye
BDS (Singapore), FRACDS (Australia), MDS (OMS) Singapore, FAMS (Singapore)