The Painful Truth About TMD and How to Help

As you already know, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) refer to a cluster of conditions that are often characterized by pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or its surrounding tissues. The surrounding tissues might include the neck, head and even shoulders. Conditions involving the TMJ are so common among the adult population that up to 75 percent show at least one sign of TMD upon examination. Let’s take a look at some of the instances in which TMD can cause further complications and how to educate your patients.

Further Complications

Evidence continues to be available about TMD and how it can be worsened by other conditions. Today, it has been shown that anxiety, stress, and other emotional disturbances may worsen TMD. Some of the common signs of TMD include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Limited or painful jaw movements
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Clicking or grating within the joint
  • Inability to open mouth without pain

It has been shown that about 55 percent of patients with chronic headaches who were referred to a neurologist actually have signs of TMD. Without the education on TMD, signs and symptoms often go overlooked and no treatment can be found.

As a dentist, you can put an end to the misdiagnosis of TMD by completing further education. You can also educate your patients on self-care techniques and referral for non-invasive treatment should be considered [1].

Improvement with Treatment

Signs and symptoms of TMD improve over time with at-home care, and with oral appliance therapy from the dental office. Previous studies have even show that as many as 50% of patients improve in one year and 85% improve completely in three years. Encourage conservative treatment before any invasive options are considered. It is important to treat your patients properly without causing further complications.

Contact my office to learn more about TMD and available treatment options, as well as upcoming lectures for continuing your education.

 

 

 

 

1. Lindsay, J. (2016). TMJ Disorder-The Painful (but Helpful) Truth. Pain.