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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

An umbrella term covering pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull). The most important feature is pain, followed by restricted movement, and noises from the joints during jaw movement.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called "TMJ," are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.

We don't know for certain how many people have TMJ disorders, but some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected. The condition appears to be more common in women than men.

For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Generally, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms...Read more about TMJ Disorders NIH - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Orthodontics for treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

There is no evidence about the effects of different types of orthodontic braces for problems associated with the joint between the lower jaw and skull. When the joint between the lower jaw and the base of the skull is not working well (temporomandibular disorders (TMD)), it can lead to abnormal jaw movement or locking, noises (clicking or grating), muscle spasms, tenderness or pain. TMD is very common, and it is believed by some that it may be caused by the occlusion (the way the teeth bite), trauma or psychological stress. There is also a belief that the pain associated with TMD is similar, in that respect, to low back pain and may be related to variations of a person's individual pain perception. Changes in the way the teeth meet can be produced by the use of active orthodontic appliances. This review found that there is no evidence from trials to show that active orthodontic treatment can prevent or relieve temporomandibular disorders adding support to teeth not being part of its cause. It is suspected that we do not know the real cause of TMD at present.

Interventions for treating osteoarthritis in the temporomandibular joint

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint is located in front of the ear on either side of the face. However, it is the only joint that the dentists and maxillofacial surgeons predominantly have to deal with. As with many of the other joints, the TMJ can be affected by osteoarthritis (OA). This is characterized by progressive destruction of the internal surfaces of the joint which can result in debilitating pain and joint noises. Several disorders other than OA may affect the TMJ and the correct diagnosis is important such that it can be matched with appropriate therapy.

Pharmacological interventions for pain in patients with temporomandibular disorders

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders that affect the joint between the temporal bone on the side of the head and the mandibular (jaw) bone of the face, and the associated muscles. Pain is the defining feature of TMD and the primary reason for seeking care. TMD may also involve joint noises or restricted jaw function or both. Different medicines are used to treat pain due to temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These include simple painkillers (analgesics) and medicines which reduce inflammation and treat pain (for example, non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids). Medicines (called benzodiazepines) are sometimes used to reduce tension and spasm in the muscles affected by TMD. In addition, some antidepressant medicines (called tricyclic antidepressants) are used in low doses to help patients with TMD and are thought to be effective because they reduce muscle tension in patients who grind their teeth. This review found that there was not enough evidence to decide which medicines are effective in reducing pain due to chronic TMD.

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Summaries for consumers

Orthodontics for treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

There is no evidence about the effects of different types of orthodontic braces for problems associated with the joint between the lower jaw and skull. When the joint between the lower jaw and the base of the skull is not working well (temporomandibular disorders (TMD)), it can lead to abnormal jaw movement or locking, noises (clicking or grating), muscle spasms, tenderness or pain. TMD is very common, and it is believed by some that it may be caused by the occlusion (the way the teeth bite), trauma or psychological stress. There is also a belief that the pain associated with TMD is similar, in that respect, to low back pain and may be related to variations of a person's individual pain perception. Changes in the way the teeth meet can be produced by the use of active orthodontic appliances. This review found that there is no evidence from trials to show that active orthodontic treatment can prevent or relieve temporomandibular disorders adding support to teeth not being part of its cause. It is suspected that we do not know the real cause of TMD at present.

Interventions for treating osteoarthritis in the temporomandibular joint

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint is located in front of the ear on either side of the face. However, it is the only joint that the dentists and maxillofacial surgeons predominantly have to deal with. As with many of the other joints, the TMJ can be affected by osteoarthritis (OA). This is characterized by progressive destruction of the internal surfaces of the joint which can result in debilitating pain and joint noises. Several disorders other than OA may affect the TMJ and the correct diagnosis is important such that it can be matched with appropriate therapy.

Pharmacological interventions for pain in patients with temporomandibular disorders

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders that affect the joint between the temporal bone on the side of the head and the mandibular (jaw) bone of the face, and the associated muscles. Pain is the defining feature of TMD and the primary reason for seeking care. TMD may also involve joint noises or restricted jaw function or both. Different medicines are used to treat pain due to temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These include simple painkillers (analgesics) and medicines which reduce inflammation and treat pain (for example, non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids). Medicines (called benzodiazepines) are sometimes used to reduce tension and spasm in the muscles affected by TMD. In addition, some antidepressant medicines (called tricyclic antidepressants) are used in low doses to help patients with TMD and are thought to be effective because they reduce muscle tension in patients who grind their teeth. This review found that there was not enough evidence to decide which medicines are effective in reducing pain due to chronic TMD.

Terms to know

Malocclusion
Malocclusion is the misalignment of teeth and jaws, or more simply, a "bad bite". Malocclusion can cause a number of health and dental problems.
Mandible (Jaw Bone)
The lower jaw bone holding the lower teeth.
Skull
The skeleton of the head including the bones of the face and the bones enclosing the brain.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The joint on either side of the human head where the jaw (mandible) meets the skull (at the temporal bone).

More about Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Photo of an adult

Also called: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome, Temporomandibular disorder, TMJD

Other terms to know: See all 4
Malocclusion, Mandible (Jaw Bone), Skull

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