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Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Risk factors for temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) include:

  • Stress and anxiety, which can cause facial and jaw muscle tension.
  • Repetitive habits, such as grinding your teeth (bruxism), clenching your teeth, excessive gum chewing, eating hard or chewy foods, and nail biting.
  • Habits that can cause muscle tension, such as sleeping on one side of your face or with your mouth open, opening your mouth wide when yawning or singing, or holding your head up by cradling your jaw in your hand.
  • Injury to the jaw or head. TMDs can result from a direct blow to the jaw, chin, or head; whiplash to the head or neck; overstretching the jaw during dental work or surgery; or other injuries that may lead to joint damage or muscle tension.
  • Age and gender. TMDs are more common in younger adults (ages 20 to 50) and in women.1

When To Call a Doctor

Call your dentist or doctor immediately if you have had an injury to your jaw or face and:

  • Your jaw is very painful.
  • Your jaw is locked open or shut, or you are unable to move your jaw easily or smoothly (a sign of disc displacement, dislocation, or fracture).
  • Your jaw appears to be deformed or swollen.
  • There is swelling in the sides of your face.
  • Your teeth no longer fit together normally when biting down (malocclusion).
  • A severe headache or neck ache strikes suddenly, without apparent cause, or is different from previous headaches.

Call your dentist or doctor if you:

  • Have pain when moving your jaw (biting, chewing, swallowing, talking, or yawning) that is not getting better after 2 weeks of home treatment.
  • Have had jaw pain for a long time (chronic).
  • Have anxiety, stress, or work-related problems caused by your jaw discomfort and pain.
  • Continue to have symptoms (such as pain with clicking or cracking sounds or your jaw locks) after 2 weeks of home treatment.
  • Notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.

Who to see

Your treatment for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may involve several different health professionals.

Initial evaluation can be done by a:

Further diagnosis and treatment may be done by a:

  • Dentist who specializes in treating TMDs.
  • Physical therapist.
  • Facial pain expert.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Additional treatment may be provided by:

If a doctor suggests that you try a treatment that might make permanent changes to your jaw, be sure to get a second opinion.

Health and dental insurance plans might not cover diagnosis and treatment. Because some tests and treatments are quite expensive, you may want to check your coverage before incurring expenses.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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