Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
TMD, shorthand for temporomandibular disorders, is a group of conditions that include headaches, muscle pain, jaws that lock open or closed or make sounds during movement. You may experience pain or limitations to the function of your jaws that affect speaking, swallowing and eating. Although some TMD symptoms are challenging to treat, the majority are relatively easy and treatment can provide dramatic improvements in function and decrease in pain. TMJ problems can have many causes or triggers as well as a wide spectrum of symptoms. Although it’s often impossible to identify a single origin of TMD issues, these disorders are most common among women between the ages of 30 and 50 and may be related to stress, tension or even poor posture. Dental issues such as damaged teeth or an overbite can also lead to TMD/TMJ problems.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disease
TMJ disease refers to problems with the joints on either side of your face. TMJ disease occurs when there has been damage to the actual joint, including the cartilage, soft tissue or bones. One of the most common signs is popping or clicking noises when you open and close your mouth. These noises may occur sporadically, or every time you open and close. The noise occurs as the bones move off and on the cartilage and indicates that some damage has already occurred to the joint. It is important to understand whether the damage was isolated or is ongoing and could result in problems like chronic joint pain or your jaws locking. A joint exam including the use of a facial ultrasound monitor will allow us to better understand the health of the joint and the condition of the cartilage.
Headaches are common, and all of us get them from time to time. If you have headaches a number of times per week and they are affecting your quality of life, diagnosing the cause is important. There are many types of headaches, but muscle tension headaches around the face and temples are a common symptom of TMD. Often this process can begin as a tiredness of the facial muscles, or fatigue when eating chewy foods. A complete muscle exam can reveal muscle tightness and inflammation and whether your bite is part of the cause. A custom mouthguard, usually worn during the night can be an effective way to relieve the muscle tension and reduce or eliminate muscle tension headaches.
Dr. Brady has participated in thousands of hours in advanced education on diagnosing and treating disorders relating to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). She is a member of the American Equilibration Society, the largest organization in the world that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of dental occlusion (bite problems) and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and associated muscles.