Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD, is a disorder characterized by pain in the jaw, neck, shoulders, and multiple areas of the face. Traditionally, TMD is caused by clenching your teeth or jaw, jaw trauma, sleep apnea, or growing up with an improper bite. Recently though, studies are starting to question whether jaw issues are the only culprit for TMD, or if TMD pain can originate in the neck.
Doctors have started studying the connection between neck pain and TMD in recent years. One comprehensive study comprised of a control group and a group of patients who were being treated for TMD at the time, some of whom had also been born with and were currently being treated for cervical, or spine disorders, 20 in each group. The study concluded that 82 percent of the patients with cervical disorders were also suffering from TMD, and therefore drew the conclusion that spinal injuries and disorders can very easily contribute or cause TMD.
If you suffer from a stiff neck, then your physical therapist might not be terribly surprised to learn that you also have TMD. Physical therapists have known for a while that when the muscles in the neck are in pain, or are unable to move, the result can be pain in your sinuses, jaw, and ears, and may cause you to clench your teeth during the night, which only exacerbates the problem further.
TMD is Hard to Diagnose
TMD can cause pain in the eyes, throat, nose, and upper back in addition to the jaw and neck, which has made it very difficult for both dentists and ENT doctors to diagnose. Patients often go without treatment due to the difficulties of getting a proper diagnosis, which is a mistake as TMD is not an issue that will heal itself with time. So if you suspect that you may have TMD, you should always bring your concerns to your dentist, who will do their best to treat you.
If you suspect that you have TMD, would like information on treatments or preventative measures, please call C&C Dentistry for more information.