Being diagnosed with a TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder, can mean a number of things, but only under extreme and uncommon circumstances does treatment ever require surgery. In fact, although it can be a complicated disorder and difficult to diagnose, the treatment is usually very easy. TMDs involve your TMJs (temporomandibular joints), your masticatory muscles (the jaw muscles that help you chew, talk, yawn, etc.), and the tissue that surrounds these areas. Most people don’t know they have a TMD, but there are certain signs and symptoms you can look out for.
Technically speaking, TMDs are a group of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions that affect your jaw joints, or temporomandibular joints. These joints, which can be found by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth, attach the lower jaw to your skull creating your oral cavity. These joints are meant to be flexible and move smoothly so you can talk, eat, yawn, etc. If too much pressure is put on the joints and surrounding muscles–for example, when a person habitually grinds their teeth–it can lead to pain and dysfunction.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with TMJ disorders, many of which can be overlooked or mistaken for something else. Some of these symptoms include:
Most treatment for TMDs are non-invasive, conservative, and painless. Dr. Carmona will create a custom-fitted oral appliance, or bite guard, that will help keep your bite aligned and relieve undue pressure on your jaw joints. The guard fits comfortably in your mouth and is worn at night while you sleep. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel you may be suffering from a TMD, don’t let the fear of surgery keep you from pursuing treatment.