TMD (TMJ) Treatment Atlanta, GA

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is often called “TMJ” by doctors, patients and insurance companies. However, the term TMJ actually refers only to the jaw joints themselves. TMD describes a group of diseases that can affect the jaw joints, the muscles that control jaw movement and/or the dental occlusion. TMDs are physical disorders that result from an imbalance in the delicate working relationship of the jaw and skull with the muscles that move the jaw, as well as the nervous system associated with these systems. This imbalance results in muscle fatigue, spasm and/or joint dysfunction, and even changes in the teeth, which in turn cause a variety of symptoms that are unique to each person.

The Complex TM System

The TM joint system is unique in many ways. The left and right joints must coordinate, working at the same time for the jaw to move. While the opening,lateral and forward movements of the jaw are controlled by the shape of the bones and are a function of muscles and ligaments, the closing end-point of the jaw movement is controlled by the coming together of teeth – the bite or occlusion. No other joint in the body has such a rigid end-point limit.

The proper, healthy function of the TMJ system requires normal structure and function of all the component parts, including muscles, nervous system, ligaments, joints (bones, discs and connecting tissues) and the dental occlusion.

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is often called “TMJ” by doctors, patients and even insurance companies, although the term TMJ actually refers only to the jaw joints themselves. TMD describes a group of diseases that can involve the jaw joints, the muscles that control jaw movement and the dental occlusion. TMDs are physical disorders arising from an imbalance in the delicate working relationship of the jaw and skull with the muscles that move the jaw, as will as the nervous system associated with these systems. This imbalance results in muscle fatigue, spasm and/or joint dysfunction, and even changes in the teeth, which in turn cause a variety of symptoms, unique for each person.

TMD Symptoms include

  • Headaches
  • Facial Pain
  • Jaw Pain
  • Ear pain
  • Clicking/Popping in the Jaw Joints
  • Difficulty Chewing
  • Limited Mouth Opening
  • Uncomfortable Bite
  • Changing Bite
  • Tinnitus (Ringing Ears)
  • Muffled Ears
  • Worn-down Teeth
  • Clenching/Bruxing (Grinding)
  • Neck Pain
  • Dizziness

The Causes of TMD

The symptoms of TMD, which affect millions of adults and children, can gradually appear with no apparent, specific cause. They can also occur after severe trauma, such as a traffic accident or a blow to the facial area. Even subtle repeated traumas, such as excessive teeth clenching, gum chewing or nail biting can cause TMD. These conditions can also be caused by a bad bite (malocclusion), which is characterized by unhealthy muscle and joint function. Systemic diseases and developmental abnormalities can also cause TMD.

Stress and tension may awaken a quiet, asymptomatic TMD or aggravate an existing temporomandibular condition. However, stress alone does not cause TMD if a patient has healthy dental occlusion and muscle and jaw function.

A Thorough Exam is Critical

All too often patients are classified as “chronic pain patients”, as a result of their initial complaints being wrongly identified as stress or psychological disorder. These patients may be relegated to treatment focusing only on medication and counseling, with no treatment of the physical cause of their illness. A thorough analysis of each patient, as well as early and appropriate treatment of TMD may avoid the progression to a chronic pain state.