Temporomandibular disorder is the name given to a group of symptoms which give patients varying degrees of facial pain.
It is a very complex area and one I have been interested in for over 25 years of my now 33 years practising life.
What are the symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder?
Common symptoms of temporomandibular disorder include:
- facial pain
- limited opening of the jaw
- clicking or grating on jaw movement
- pain associated with eating or other function
- pain in the side of the face
- temporal headaches
- neck problems
As you can see there are a variety of signs and symptoms to be aware of and treatment is very much determined by the mechanisms and causes of the problem.
What causes Temporomandibular Disorder?
Broadly the problems usually are to do with the articular disc, which is the shock absorber of the joint, or muscle soreness and spasm.
There are many many other parts of the masticatory system which can also be affected as well as many conditions (for example arthritis) which can contribute to the problem so there is no simple way to categorise treatment in every case.
The cause of the problem can often be:
- grinding or clenching of the teeth
- secondary to an event such as trauma
How do you treat Temporomandibular Disorder?
Treatments vary of course and should be very conservative and reversible in nature.
The main treatments include:
- teaching of relaxation habits during the day
- splint therapy for night time (this is like a small mouthguard which interferes with grinding)
- and there can be a role for physiotherapy