How Did I Get TMD?

If you ever have pain around your ear or lower jaw when you’re inflating a balloon, chewing toffee, drinking through a straw or just talking you could be suffering from TMD (temporomandibular disorder). Your dentist can help determine whether or not your jaw pain, headaches, clicking in your jaw, and other symptoms may be caused by TMD. The reason you have TMD can be less obvious because it may be from an injury that is long forgotten, or it seemed insignificant at the time. TMD can come from old habits that you do not even notice you do, such as chewing on a pencil, the way you sleep, or clinching your teeth all day. In many cases the exact cause of TMD may be unclear. And to add to the complexity, it could be caused by a combination of different factors that could generate issues to this intricate joint in your jaw (TMJ or temporomandibular joint).

Top three TMD contributing factors:

  1. Injury to your jaw, joint, or muscles of your head and neck – it could be from getting hit in the face by a ball or your face impacting something. Another cause of TMD is car collisions, where there is strain on your neck and/or jaw from the sudden stop.
  2. Arthritis in the jaw joint. Arthritis can be caused by aging of the joints, genetic factors or deterioration of the joints after previous injury.
  3. Stress, which may lead to grinding the teeth (Bruxism). Stress can stem from worry about work, finances, and relationship issues. Sometimes people even clench their teeth when they’re concentrating hard on a task, or putting their all into playing a sport.

Other things can cause a disorder in the joint. These include loose or ill-fitting dentures, congenital defects in the jaw or grinding your teeth while you’re sleeping. Muscle stress in the head and neck muscles may also cause aching in your jaws, headache, neck pain and difficulty concentrating.

You can see how all or some of these factors can combine to make your jaw ache. If you are stressed you may bite your nails or clench your jaw. If your jaw hurts it may be harder for you to sleep. That can contribute to lack of productivity at work or in other daily activities which can then increase your stress levels! This could lead to perpetuating the symptom and cause even further discomfort.

TMD is a treatable disorder. Your medical and dental team can offer treatment suggestions that may help to alleviate the cause and the painful symptoms.