It’s a mouthful, but TMD and TMJ are some of the conditions dentists most commonly hear complaints about. Both issues relate to the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge that links your skull’s temporal bones (temple) to your jaw. Basically, this is the joint that lets you move your jaw — you need it for talking, chewing and, of course, those karaoke nights. All temporomandibular ailments are dubbed temporomandibular disorders, or TMD. No one scientific issue is labeled TMJ, but the term is so prevalent is has become acceptable. TMJ puts the word joint instead of disorder in the temporomandibular title.

Unfortunately, nobody really knows the cause of TMD. Some dentists think it stems from jaw muscle issues, while others think it’s a problem with the joint. However, it is known that jaw, neck or head injuries, like whiplash, can cause TMD. Other causes may include severe tooth grinding or clenching, arthritis, a shift in the soft cushion/disc located in between the socket and ball, and sometimes sheer physical stress. It’s pretty common for people to clench their jaws when they’re under pressure.

Do You Have TMD?

Only a dentist can diagnose TMD, but there are some common symptoms that point to the condition. The most obvious is pain where the jaw and temporal bones meet, be it chronic or transient. TMD can occur on one side of the face or both. Generally, women get TMD more often than men, and it’s most common in 20-to-40-year-olds, but anyone can develop it. You might notice tenderness anywhere in the face, jaw, shoulders, ear or neck, particularly when talking or eating. It might be challenging to open your mouth widely, or you might hear a click or pop when talking or chewing.

Less obvious symptoms include your face feeling tired, discomfort when biting or a having a swollen face. None of these symptoms is normal, and you shouldn’t have to just deal with it. Call Oak Hills Dentistry of Layton, Utah, today for a consultation, and working together with your dentist you can get to the bottom of your TMD — and get the relief you need.