How do I know if I have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)?

The symptoms of TMD can vary significantly from one person to the next. Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Pain and soreness in the jaw and facial muscles
  • Tooth grinding
  • Clicking/popping noise in the jaw
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Tightness and loss of range of motion in the jaw

How does a joint in the jaw affect the ears and neck/shoulder area?

The jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) is a delicately balanced mechanism. Although the joint itself is small, it is essential to many interrelated functions such as speaking, eating, and facial expressions. It is also interconnected with the musculoskeletel function as a whole. For this reason, a malfunction of your jaw joint can cause problems such as aches and pains in other areas of your body as well.

How did I get TMD?

Research has not yet determined all the possible causes of TMD. We do know that TMD can be precipitated or aggravated by trauma, certain health care procedures, oral habits, and diseases such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. However, TMD symptoms are known to occur without an identifiable cause.

I began working with Dr. Shapira several months ago regarding a case of debilitating TMJ. He uses innovative technology to measure jaw movement, ensuring that his splint treatment is precise. He also works with patients to help them understand and treat the muscular component of TMJ (something not offered by the four previous dentists I had seen for my condition). 

Is TMD treatable?

TMD is treatable by a highly trained neuromuscular dentist such as Dr. Ira Shapira at Delany Dental Care in Gurnee, Illinois. After a thorough evaluation and assessment of your case, something as simple as lifestyle changes may be suggested such as change of diet, avoidance of caffeine, or smoking cessation. Oral appliances and C-Pap may also be recommended, and in severe cases, surgery may be indicated.

Can I just live with TMD as I have been for years and hope it goes away?

TMD never goes away on its own. As your system tries to accommodate the problems associated with it, it can actually become worse. In the vast majority of cases, TMD, if left untreated will continue to progress, causing pain, tooth damage, and loss of bone and teeth.

Is TMD common?

Approximately ten million people in the United States have TMD at any given time, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, with most of the sufferers being young females. Many people go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed with migraine headaches.

If you would like to learn more about TMD and how it can be treated, please contact Delany Dental Care in Gurnee, Illinois to make an appointment with neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Ira Shapira, who has served cosmetic dentistry patients in and around the Chicago area for over twenty years.

Here is more information on TMJ/TMD Treatment