Thousands of people suffer from chronic pain caused by problematic temporomandibular joints (TMJ). This condition is referred most commonly referred to as TMD which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. According to Dr. Ryne Johnson, prosthodontist at Newton Wellesley Dental Partners, “TMD may be a result of the joint in your jaw, but it can affect different parts of the body causing neck, ear, head and jaw pain”.

Dr. Johnson, a prosthodontist at Newton Wellesley Dental Partners, tells of many patients who report stiffness in the upper back/shoulders first thing in the morning. Others present after some simple dental work and now have TMD symptoms. “Often grinding at night or some malocclusion can contribute to TMD and the person rarely equates the underlying factors to their oral-facial discomfort”.

Your temporomandibular joints stabilize the upper jaw. A malfunctioning of these joints, which are on both sides of your jaw, is the most common reason people suffer from TMJ disorder. One side of the jaw, will work prematurely during different movements. This is caused by sleeping on it awkwardly. Typically it is caused by night teeth grinding.

TMD can be very painful and causes a lot of discomfort. However, oftentimes patients don’t know that their pain is a result of TMD.

Some symptoms of TMD are:

  • Discomfort in the neck, back and shoulder
  • Headache
  • Pain with chewing and swallowing
  • Clicking of the jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Ringing in the ears

Once one side of your jaw joint becomes inflamed, the mouth cannot open symmetrically. Additionally, the inflamed joint can cause pain around the ear. Dr. Johnson can offer solutions to patients suffering from TMD.

TMD symptoms are treated with a mouthpiece, also known as a nightguard, to relax the jaw. The mouthpiece rests on the teeth so you cannot grind them and gradually, the mouthpiece helps heal the joint.

Dr. Johnson also educates his patients about how they can relieve TMD symptoms. For more information on TMD, visit www.NewtonWellesleyDentalPartners.org and remember, “See a Specialist…The Difference Will Make You Smile”.