Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD) is a complicated condition with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimating that more than 10 million Americans suffer from this dysfunction. However, answers are still missing to what causes it. As research continues, we learn what works for treatment, some potential causes and what seems like a never-ending list of symptoms and side-effects.

To help you get a better understanding of TMD, let’s take a closer look at some of the causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What are the causes?

While there is a need for further research on what exactly causes TMD, we do know a few. Most people experience an onset of symptoms during their teen years because their jaw is developing at a different pace than their skull during this time. There is also a higher frequency of TMD among women, but that is still unclear because women are often better at seeking care for chronic health conditions than men, which can account for the higher rates of TMD.

Groups that are more at risk for TMD include those with osteoporosis or other conditions in which the bone or cartilage are undergoing changes, as well as rheumatological concerns, headaches and other pain. Some women might also experience a resurgence in TMD symptoms when they enter menopause.

What treatment options exist?

The good news is that treatment options are available. For many people, treatment for TMD might include adjusting their daily tasks, such as what they are eating. This might help the pain go away and prevent it from worsening, but it won’t cure it. When TMD symptoms continue to worsen, it is important to seek proper intervention.

To begin, try at-home pain relief remedies. This might include using an ice pack or warm compress, over-the-counter pain medication, stress reduction techniques or jaw exercises. Further treatment might also include the use of an oral appliance. This helps to minimize pressure on your jaw and re-adjust the alignment.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on TMD and how we can help.