Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorder, also known as TMD, is a set of conditions that causes pain in the jaw muscles. Exactly how many people suffer from TMD is unknown, but the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates between 5% to 13% of the population suffers from some level of TMD.
TMD rates have been known to occur more among younger people. What causes TMD and who may have it is a largely debated subject; there is no standard definition for TMD at this time. Scientists researching TMD are looking for the conditions, causes, and effective modes of treatment for TMD. Schedule a dental exam with one of our dentists at if you are in pain or have been afflicted by these symptoms. Our specialists can help find an effective treatment and will ease your symptoms.
The Jaw and Surrounding Muscles
The lower jawbone, known as the mandible, is supported by muscles and joints on the side of your face near your ears. The part of the jawbone that connects to your skull is called the rami, and it has two points. The rear point closest to the back of your skull is called the condylar process. The front point facing the front of your skull is called the coronoid process. The condylar process is where the mandible connects to the skull by the temporomandibular joint aka, the TMJ. This joint rests between the ear canal and the temporal bone. Your jaw and the TMJ have special maneuverability so that you can talk, eat, or yawn. The joints are flexible so you can move your jaw side to side or up and down. Muscles attached to the jaw hold it steady, controlling its position and movement. The four muscles involved in chewing are the medial pterygoid muscle, lateral pterygoid muscle, masseter muscle, and temporalis muscle. Fewer muscles are involved in chewing than in speech, which requires more anterior facial muscles.
Finding Out if You Have TMD
The exact cause of TMD is still being researched by scientists at this time. TMD is measured and researched by asking patients about the type and duration of muscle, joint, and facial pain, difficulty with chewing, and joint sounds. The symptoms described by patients can widely vary.
Most people report mild forms of TMD, their symptoms come and go, and they may experience pain in the jaw for a moment and the pain subsides. Pain in your jaw and sympathetic facial pain can be related to other physical conditions such as ear or sinus infections, headaches or migraines, or facial neuralgias. Once having these symptoms, it does require a dental exam to rule out any other causes other than TMD.
A dental exam at Division Smiles Family Dental can help rule out other causes of the jaw or facial pain before making any conclusions on your TMD. One of our dentists can also help recommend a treatment that can help alleviate your pain. If symptoms persist, you may need multiple visits or a physical exam by your doctor. Call us at (971) 978-0293 to schedule an exam, or for more information regarding TMD.