Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Millions of Americans suffer from jaw joint and jaw muscle pain, as well as chronic facial and neck pain and recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be very unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

The most common causes of TMD are clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxing) and traumatic injury to your facial area (car accident, etc.).  Most patients are not aware of bruxing their teeth, because it is a subconscious habit.  But after some thought,  many people realize they do this.  Stress is the most common contributing factor.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let us know. Dr. Donovan can help diagnose the presence of TMD and create an effective treatment just for you.

Treatment for TMD:

The most common treatment for TMD is an appliance to be worn during times that you may brux your teeth, usually when sleeping.  There are several different types of appliances that may be helpful, including night guards and splints.

These appliances protect your teeth from damaging bruxism as well as relieving your joint from excess loading.

Be sure to ask Dr. Donovan or his team about treatment options if you are suffering from TMD.


There are also treatments you can do at home to help minimize the discomfort of TMD:

  • Moist heat (a wet washcloth around a heating pad) on the affected area as much as possible
  • Soft Diet
  • Antiinflammatories such as Aleve (if it is safe for you to take)


There are also a few simple steps you can take at home to prevent TMD  from occurring:

  • Relax your face — remember the rule: "Lips together, teeth apart"
  • Don't clench or grind your teeth
  • Avoid gum chewing
  • Balance your chewing on both sides
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared