What are TMJ disorders (TMD)?
Temporomandibular disorders (or TMDs) are a group of diseases and disorders that affect the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), the masticatory muscles, and all associated tissues. They are the major cause of non-dental pain in the orofacial region after dental pain.
If you suffer from a TMD disorder, you may experience:
- Jaw pain when opening or closing the mouth
- Jaw pain when awakening
- Jaw pain when eating
- Clicking or popping noises
- Limited jaw opening
- Jaw locking/catching
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, or yawning
- Pain in your neck, back, or head
- Changes in your bite
- Dental pain of unknown origin
What causes TMJ disorders?
According to the Academy of Orofacial Pain, the causes of TMJD are unclear. Research has shown that multiple factors contribute to the development of TMD, and not only one.
Possible contributing factors to TMD include:
- Jaw injury, including whiplash or getting hit in the jaw
- Over-stretching from: wide opening during eating, long dental procedures, or insertion of a breathing tube
- Teeth clenching and grinding
- Abnormal habits such as nail biting, gum chewing
- Auto-immune diseases
- Psychological factors such as emotional stress, depression, or anxiety
Neuropathic pain is defined as pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system (International Association for the Study of Pain, IASP).
Types of nerve pain
- Severe and excruciating electric shock-like pain in one of the distributions of the trigeminal nerve
- Triggered by touching the face or spontaneous pain
- Burning and/or tingling pain in the tongue, palate, or lips in the absence of clinical and laboratory findings
- Nerve pain following a traumatic injury to a branch of the trigeminal or lingual nerve; for example, after dental implants, oral surgery, wisdom teeth removal, oral biopsies, or trauma to the face.
- Glossopharyngeal neuralgia
- Nervus intermedius neuralgia
- Superior laryngeal neuralgia
- Occipital neuralgia
- Post-herpetic trigeminal neuropathy
- Nerve pain that is not associated with any clear pathophysiology and its causes are unknown
Some headaches can be caused by a TMJ disorder and can be effectively treated by controlling the primary cause. At Houston TMJ, Facial Pain and Sleep, we can help find out the source of your headaches.
We also treat other types of headaches, including:
• Tension-type headache
• Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias
What can be done
The key for a successful treatment is a proper diagnosis. Dr. Martinez performs a detailed interview and a thorough clinical examination that leads to an accurate diagnosis.
TMJ disorders and orofacial pain conditions vary widely and are not treated equally. This is why only an Orofacial Pain Specialist, such as Dr. Martinez, can diagnose and successfully treat your facial pain complaints.