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Understanding the Causes of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), From a General Dentist in Peterborough

One of the most common forms of jaw pain, experienced by over ten million people in North America alone, is temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.  TMD covers a range of afflictions and problems which can occur in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the connection point and hinge between your jawbone and the rest of your skull.  Difficulty with the TMJ can cause pain or difficulty properly working the mouth, sometimes severely so.

In today’s blog, Dr. Moore, a general dentist in Peterborough, wanted to take a quick look at temporomandibular disorder, its causes, and how you might help reduce your chances of suffering from it.

Peterborough Dentist, Dr. Moore, Looks into Temporomandibular Disorder

First, just a quick note about acronyms:  A lot of people mistakenly use “TMJ” to refer to jaw pain or other problems, but they actually mean “TMD.”  The TMJ is the joint itself, and TMD refers to disorders in that joint.

What causes TMD?  Despite being suffered by so many people, there is still some disagreement over its causes.  It’s believed to have multiple causes, or at least multiple aggravating factors which all add up to a case of TMD.  It may even turn out, in the future, that what we call TMD is actually more than one disorder.

However, there is agreement on a number of factors which can all contribute to a case of TMD.  These include:

  • Any significant injury to the TMJ, such as a blow to the head or whiplash from a car accident.
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth, during the day or at night, because this puts a lot of additional stress on the TMJ.
  • Extra stress, including pain-related stress such as from back pain.  This causes the TMJ to clench up.
  • Movement of the soft tissue surrounding the joint so that it’s no longer properly protected; basically, equivalent to a spinal hernia.
  • Arthritis, much as in other joints.
  • Miss-alignments between the TMJ and the bones on either side, sort of like a door which doesn’t quite fit into its frame and gets stuck.

It’s hardly surprising that the TMJ is vulnerable to so many different problems, considering what a hard-working joint it is.  You’re using your TMJ in some way or another almost all the time, whenever your mouth is moving at all.

To avoid TMD, or reduce its effects, avoiding as many of those aggravating factors as possible is the key.  Always use proper headgear when playing sports.  If you grind your teeth, talk to a dentist about possible corrections for the problem.  Look for ways to de-stress, particularly if that stress is already causing upper back or neck pain.

Dr. Christopher Moore Is Your Peterborough Dentist Who Can Help with TMD

If you’re suffering from TMD related symptoms, there are a lot of options to try to reduce your discomfort and restore your jaw to proper working order.  Contact Dr. Christopher Moore and Associates today to schedule an appointment!