What is TMD and what can I do about it?

What is TMD and what can I do about it?


TMD stands for temporomandibular dysfunction. The temporomandibular joints are the joints of your jaw. There are two joints one on either side of our jaw, these joints are made up of two condyles and a disc in between. When we open and close our mouth this disc should move forward and back, because the joint is bilateral (on both sides of our face) it is important that these joints move evenly and at the same time. If the joints of the jaw (TMJ) are asymmetrical as they move this can cause dysfunction in the ligaments, muscles and discs of the TMJ. If there is dysfunction, overtime your jaw may feel tight or you may hear a popping or clicking noise that comes from one or both sides of the jaw. One of the reasons you may have TMD is grinding or clenching your teeth. If you notice throughout the day that your bottom teeth are touching your top teeth you are clenching. We should have a little space between the upper and lower teeth when we are relaxed.  If you wake up in the morning with a headache, tight neck muscles, or a sore jaw, you could be grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep.  Some reasons we grind or clench our teeth are, stress, airway issues (trouble breathing), tight or imbalanced jaw muscles. 

What can you do about TMD? If you notice any of these symptoms you can have your jaw evaluated to see if your joints are symmetrical and the muscles around your jaw are balanced. I treat TMD in the office! I look at your bite and the motion of your jaw as you open and close your mouth. I also evaluate your cranial bones and your cervical spine (neck).  If imbalances are found I typically put gloves on and work inside the mouth on your TMJ. I work to correct any aberrant motion of the jaw and balance the muscles to help relieve pain and popping and clicking sounds. I will also give you some at home exercises to do to help the alignment of your jaw.  You may also need to visit your dentist and get fit for a night guard. If you already have a night guard and need to get a new one I always recommend having your jaw worked on before you go to the dentist for your new night guard so you have optimal alignment of your jaw!

If you are having any symptoms of TMD please reach out or let me know at your next visit!


Dr. Tablak

Juliet Tablak