What Is TMD and How Do You Fix It?

man holding face - tmd and how to fix it

What Is TMD and How Do You Fix It?

The acronym TMD stands for Temporo-Mandibular Disorders and refers to the 30 or so conditions affecting the joints that connect your jawbone to your skull. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, treatments for TMD can range from a quick dentist visit to surgical procedures. 


While these acronyms are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, two separate terms. 

TMJ is shorthand for “temporomandibular joint” and refers to the hinge joint that sits in front of your ears. It helps open and shut your jaw, as well as move it all around. It allows you to eat, drink, speak, and even yawn.

TMD refers to disorders of the temporomandibular joint. These disorders can affect not only the joint, but also the muscles, bones, and ligaments. There are around 30 different types of TMD. 

Causes of TMD

Oftentimes an injury like whiplash can cause TMD, however, some people experience TMD without injury. Other causes include tight facial muscles or grinding your teeth at night. These things cause excess stress on the joints, muscles, and ligaments in the jaw area. The exact cause of TMD is unknown, but experts think it has to do with problems with the facial muscles or with joint mobility. 

Symptoms of TMD

  • Pain when chewing, yawning, or opening and closing your mouth; the pain may spread to your face and neck or even your back
  • Jaw stiffness, or “locking” in place
  • A popping, cracking, or grinding sound when moving your jaw
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble chewing due to a shifting jaw


Can TMD Be Fixed?

A dentist can diagnose your TMD after performing a physical exam and taking x-rays. They will then walk you through the available treatments. Depending on the severity of your TMD, you might need to make some lifestyle changes, take some medications, or get surgery to manage the problem. 

At Home Treatments for TMD

  • Avoid extreme jaw movements and eat softer foods (keep operatic singing to a minimum, and avoid giant burgers). This will help relieve some stress on your jaw and facial muscles.
  • Keep your teeth apart—this will help prevent clenching or grinding your teeth during the day. Consider keeping your tongue between your teeth to reduce the urge to bite down. 
  • Practice stress-relieving techniques like meditation, massage, and other relaxation methods may help reduce tension in your jaw

Dental Treatments for TMD

  • Take prescribed medications to reduce pain and inflammation. 
  • Get the dental work you need—placing crowns and filling cavities might help to reduce jaw pain.
  • Wear a night guard—this can help you reduce pressure from unconsciously grinding your teeth at night. Your dentist can fit you with a comfortable, custom mouthguard.

Treatments for Extreme TMD

If none of the other options work, surgery may be your next treatment option. Consult your general practitioner for a referral.


Find TMD Relief in Prescott, Arizona 

Pain in your jaw and mouth can increase stress, make you unable to enjoy meals, give you headaches, and cause many other issues. The sooner you talk to a dentist about your pain, the sooner you can find relief. If you are experiencing jaw pain, call Hicks Dental Group to make an appointment today.