A question that is frequently asked is what exactly is TMD? TMD or Temporomandibular dysfunctions are a group of maladies which can affect the temporomandibular joints, (the jaw joints located immediately in front of your ears), the associated muscles of the jaw, face and neck, as well as related neurological and vascular structures.
Problems within this complex can produce a myriad of symptoms which, at first glance, might appear to be totally unrelated to the jaw complex. These symptoms can include headaches (over the eye, in the temples, behind the eyes, and at the base of the skull), generalized facial pain as well as more specific pain directly in front of the ears, ear symptoms including ringing, buzzing, congestion, as well as pain. In addition neck and shoulder pain as well as clicking or grating noises of the jaw joint with movement, locking of the jaw or pain in the jaw with function are frequently encountered.
Craniomandibular Dysfunction is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms which occur when the chewing muscles and jaw joints do not function together correctly. "TMJ/TMD" is a popular term commonly used to describe the same group of symptoms. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joints. These are the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull. When these joints are out of place, they can cause many problems, such as:
- Clicking or popping of the jaw joints.
- Pain in or around the jaw joints.
- Locking or limited opening of your mouth.
Muscle spasm goes hand-in-hand with displaced jaw joints. Because the nerves and muscles are so complex in this area, when these muscles are in spasm the problems can be far-reaching. People suffer from symptoms they would never think to associate with their bite, such as:
- Pain behind the eyes.
- Dizziness, nausea.
- Earaches or ringing of the ears (Tinnitus).
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth.
- Neck, shoulder, or back pain.
- Numbness, or tingling of the fingers.
- Hearing loss.
Such symptoms may relate to your bite and can often be successfully treated by a practitioner who has received the appropriate training.
The primary problem can be within the joints themselves, the muscles of the face and jaw, or a combination of these. Since the symptoms masquerade as so many other conditions, many people travel from doctor to doctor in search of a cure.