Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is not just a disorder, but a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and the muscles that control chewing.
Usually, discomfort from TMJ/TMD is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. In most cases the discomfort will eventually go away whether treated or not.
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the temporal bone at the side of the head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of the head.
Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn.
TMD falls into three main categories:
1. Myofascial pain, the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw functions and the neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Internal derangement of the joint meaning a dislocated or displaced disc or injury to the condyle.
3. Degenerative joint disease such as Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis in the jaw joint.