Temporomandibular disorders, better known as TMD, are characterized by pain and dysfunction in the jaw and, often, the muscles that control jaw movement. The temporomandibular joint is actually two joints, one on each side of the jaw, that act together to open, close and move the mouth for chewing, speaking, and self expression. An articular disc on each side is a dense pieces of tissue that cushions between the joint surfaces and assists with movement. TMD can arise from dysfunction in any of these areas – the joints, articular discs, muscles, nerves, as well as the bones of the head and neck.

Common symptoms related to TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw, face, teeth, gums, head, neck or shoulders
  • Clicking or popping sounds; crepitus (joint sounds)
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Excessive mouth opening; feeling that the jaw “goes out” when opening wide
  • Episodes in which the jaw locks in an open or closed position
  • Ear or eye pain or dysfunction
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Common causes include:

  • Hypermobility
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Parafunctional activity, which is a habit that is not the normal activity for the body part, such as clenching, grinding, cheek biting, or excessive gum chewing or nail biting
  • Genetic or growth factors that affect the alignment and development of the jaw and mouth and its ability or inability to perform basic function

Physical therapy for TMD includes a thorough evaluation of the patient and identification of the factors that cause and perpetuate the problem. Treatments often involve manual therapy for the relevant joints, muscles, and nerves. They also include prescriptive exercise and functional retraining, modalities, splint fitting or advice, and guidance in how to alter habits which may otherwise perpetuate the symptoms.  

Let our qualified and dependable physical therapists help you cope with TMD and return to full function. Call our office to schedule your first appointment today.