5 Things to Know About TMD (Jaw Joint Problems)

If your jaw hurts when you chew or yawn, you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly known as TMD. Any problems with the jaw and muscles in the face that control it are known as TMD.


A properly functioning jaw is important to dental health. Here are 5 things you need to know to ensure that your jaw is functioning properly.


What is the difference between TMD and TMJ?

TMD refers to disorders with the jaw and the muscles that control the jaw. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. Your jaw is connected by these joints right in front of your ears. Many people use the two acronyms interchangeably to describe jaw problems even though TMD refers to jaw disorders.



Why is proper jaw function important to my dental health?

There is a disc between the ball and socket in the joint, enabling you to move your jaw up and down, as well as from side to side. This motion allows you to chew, swallow, speak, and yawn.


Jaw pain can be debilitating, prohibiting you from being able to perform the above movements effectively.


What are the symptoms of TMD?

There are many symptoms that can reveal jaw disorders. These include:

  • Clicking or popping when you move your jaw
  • Pain around the joints
  • Swelling on the sides of your face
  • Your jaw getting stuck in the open or closed position
  • Your bite seeming “off” (teeth aren’t aligning normally)
  • Toothaches or earaches



What causes TMD?

There are many different things that can cause TMD. Sustaining an injury to your face, whether due to sports or an accident, can harm your jaw and possibly dislocate it. Other common causes include:

  • Arthritis in your jaw’s joints
  • Misalignment of your teeth that affect the alignment of your jaw
  • Grinding your teeth


How do I know if I Have TMD?

Many other conditions, like tooth decay or gum disease, result in the same symptoms that TMD presents. It is important to visit a dentist if you have these symptoms because a dental professional will be able to properly and accurately diagnose your symptoms and determine whether or not TMD is the problem.


The dentist will first look at your health history and will then conduct a physical examination. The dentist will check your jaw for pain or tenderness, also listening for any clicking or abnormal movement in your jaw. In order to determine if your tooth alignment is a factor, the dentist will test your bite and make sure the muscles that move your jaw are working properly.


If you are experiencing jaw pain, eat softer foods and don’t chew gum. While it can be difficult to determine the cause of your jaw pain, a dental professional will be able to determine if TMD is the culprit. If you’re experiencing jaw pain, contact Greenspoint Dental in Houston, Texas to schedule a dental appointment. We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with the best dental care.