What Is TMD?

IMG_5615--1-.jpgTMD is an orthodontic disorder that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint,which can cause recurrent debilitating pain in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles if left untreated or misdiagnosed. It can cause long-term hypersensitivity of the nerves surrounding the immediate area.

The TMJ is the jaw joint that connects the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone of the skull. It assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw and is one of the most intricate joints in our bodies.

TMDs can affect a person's ability to speak, eat, chew, swallow, make facial expressions and even breathe. When untreated, it can cause other parts of the face, head and neck to hurt, even though the tissues are intact and do not have a problem themselves.

Common symptoms of TMD

TMD is currently the most common orofacial disorder seen by health care workers today.

It is not a progressive or degenerative disorder, and its prevalence does not increase with age. Approximately 7 million adults have pain on or near the TMJ. It occurs in all age groups, but seems to affect women more frequently than men. It's been estimated that up to 30% of adults will experience TMD at some point in their lives. Symptoms include:

  • Clicking/popping in the jaw joints when opening or closing the mouth

  • Persistent headaches and facial pain

  • Limited ability to open the mouth

  • Pain or tenderness in the neck or ear when talking, chewing or opening the mouth wide

  • Since these symptoms may be a result of other conditions, a thorough examination by Creekwood’s Dr. John A. Dorsch is needed to receive an accurate diagnosis and to design an efficient treatment plan.

Causes of TMD

Not all causes are known for TMD. The most common cause is bruxism (grinding), or clenching of the teeth in our sleep. There is new evidence that shows a relationship with bruxism as a 'protective mechanism' to keep your airway open while you sleep and prevent you from stopping breathing.

Other factors include dental procedures, Arthritis, injuries, genetics, hormones, low-level infections, autoimmune diseases, and even stretching of the jaw that occurs with inserting a breathing tube before surgery.


Evaluation & Treatment of TMD

unnamed--1---1-.jpgCreekwood Orthodontics offers a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the "hinge" of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMD.

For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate orthodontic treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouthguard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.


Contact Our Kansas City Orthodontic Office Today!

If you are struggling with jaw pain and think you may have TMD, please contact our Kansas City, Liberty or Cameron office and make an appointment to visit with Dr. Dorsch. We are committed to providing you and your family with the best possible orthodontic care in the Kansas City area, whether we are treating you with braces, Invisalign or a disorder such as TMD. We care about your family’s oral health and will do all we can to protect it!