How To Treat Your TMD

Do you experience pain in your jaw, face, neck, or shoulders or often suffer from tension headaches or migraines? Do you ever feel tingling in the same areas or find yourself grinding your teeth at night? If so, then you could be experiencing symptoms of TMD or TMJ. 

What Is TMD/TMJ?

TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder or temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The condition is also commonly referred to as temporomandibular disorder or by the abbreviations TMD or TMJ.

It refers to various disorders of the temporomandibular joints which are the joints located on either side of your face responsible for connecting your jawbone to your skull and allowing your jawbone to open and close and move from side to side.

TMD is characterized by a variety of symptoms and issues that arise as a result of dysfunctional or improperly aligned temporomandibular joints in addition to other factors, such as overuse, that can aggravate the TMJs. 

The signs and symptoms of TMD include:

  • Malocclusion (overbite, underbite, open bite, crossbite, etc.)
  • Bruxism and sleep bruxism (clenching the jaws and grinding the teeth)
  • Telltale wear patterns on the teeth (from bruxism and malocclusion)
  • Clicking or popping noises in the TMJs
  • Grinding, clicking, or popping sensations in the TMJs
  • Lockjaw
  • Pain, tingling, and/or numbness in the jaws, face, neck, shoulders, arms, and back
  • Ear pain
  • Frequent headaches or migraines (TMJ headache)
  • Teeth sensitivity

What Causes TMD?

There are several underlying issues that can result in TMD such as overuse or strain on the muscles that control the TMJs. While bruxism is a symptom of TMD, it can also cause it. Additionally, TMD can be the result of arthritis, genetics, congenital issues, or the natural physiological arrangement of an individual's anatomy. 

How Is TMD Treated?

A wide range of treatment approaches for TMD exist. Some of the most popular and commonly used include:

Mouthguards and Splints

Custom-designed mouthguards and splints can be worn at night or throughout the day to help prevent bruxism. Additionally, these devices can help patients hold their jaws in a more comfortable and better-aligned arrangement to help alleviate pain and symptoms related to TMD. 


When a misalignment of the jaw bones or teeth is contributing to TMD, then treatment with a wide variety of orthodontics can be used to correct the misalignments. Of course, one of the most well-known treatments is braces. 

Occlusal Equilibration

Sometimes, a patient's malocclusion is caused simply by the way the teeth fit together, rather than their actual arrangement or alignment inside the mouth. This can cause discomfort and an unnatural set of the jawbone and TMJs. When this is the case, a procedure called occlusal equilibration can be used to strategically smooth the surfaces of the teeth to improve occlusion and comfort. 

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is typically the last resort used to treat patients suffering from severe TMD symptoms caused by structural disorders that cannot be alleviated with more conservative treatment options. There are several different types and approaches to these kinds of oral surgeries such as open joint surgery, arthrocentesis, or arthroscopy. The procedure that is best for any patient depends on their unique situation and treatment needs. 

Pain Relief and Alternative TMD Treatment Options

Many patients can also find adequate relief by simply addressing the symptoms of their TMD, rather than focusing on addressing the underlying cause. There are several traditional and alternative methods that can be used for this purpose such as:

  • Botox
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs
  • Heat or cold packs
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Trigger point injections
  • Meditation, relaxation techniques, and stress relief
  • Avoiding overuse

Choosing the Right TMJ Treatment

The TMD treatment that is right for you largely depends on the underlying cause(s) of your TMD. With a thorough examination and diagnostic imaging, our dentist can help you determine the cause of your TMD and symptoms in order to help you determine the most appropriate and effective course of treatment. 

Find Relief With Our TMJ Specialist in Stuart, FL

If you suffer from the painful, often debilitating symptoms of TMD, we strongly encourage you to schedule a consultation with our TMJ specialist at Aesthetic Dentistry of Stuart. Our dentist and dental care team have extensive experience in assessing TMD cases and using conservative treatment approaches to help our patients find relief. To learn more or request an appointment, we welcome you to contact our dental office today.

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