If you’ve ever woken up with a sudden onset of pain in your jaw, you’re probably wondering where it came from. Unless you experienced a facial injury the night before, it’s likely temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMD is caused from an issue with your jaw joint (the temporomandibular joint), which connects the jawbone to the skull. Unfortunately, there are several factors that contribute to the condition, often making it difficult to diagnose. If you feel pain in your ears or jaw muscles, or hear a popping sound when you open or close your mouth – you’re presenting with common symptoms of TMD. Some patients struggle to even open their mouths sometimes – you’ll want to visit your dentist before it gets any worse.
What Causes TMD?
While a facial injury – like a blow to the jaw – could definitely cause temporomandibular joint disorder, it’s more commonly caused from malocclusion (misaligned bite). Having crooked or misaligned teeth can lead to bruxism – putting additional pressure and strain on your facial muscles. Although, one of the most common reasons behind muscle strain (whether it’s from bruxism or TMD) is emotional factors, like stress, anger, or frustration.
Ultimately, when these muscles become inflamed and irritated, your jaw joint can suffer – hindering movements and overall function.
How Is TMD Treated?
If your dentist determines that you have temporomandibular joint disorder, they’ll discuss different reasons your jaw may be experiencing these issues. If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, they may recommend relief therapy to help you find other ways to cope.
However, if you have a misaligned bite – you may need orthodontic treatment to help your teeth fit properly together. That way, they’re not stressing the muscles in your face when you’re performing daily functions such as yawning, chewing, biting, and even speaking.