Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD): What is it?

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Common symptoms of TMD include:

Kathy Andres, physical therapist at the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network, said TMD may be caused by trauma to the jaw, head or neck, an improper bite, arthritis, stress, or wear and tear. In most cases, the exact cause is unclear and symptoms may start without an obvious reason.

Physical therapy is a common treatment that can help maintain, improve or bring back movement and physical function to minimize the jaw pain.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, Andres suggested seeking a consultation with a healthcare provider who can perform an evaluation to identify the cause and determine the appropriate treatment.

Story Highlights

  • The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint which connects the mandible (lower jaw) to the skull, allowing the jaw to open and close for talking, chewing, swallowing, yawning and other movement. Used more than any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joint is susceptible to disorders, known as TMD, which can affect the muscles and ligaments in the face, shoulder, head and neck.

  • Pain in the jaw, ear, face and neck.
    Pain while chewing.
    Headaches.
    Locking of the jaw.
    Sensitivity of the teeth.
    Clicking, grating or popping sounds in the jaw when opening or closing the mouth.

“Agitation, breathing exercises, relaxation and sleep hygiene can also play a huge role in managing jaw pain,” Andres said.