• Dr. Robert Pine

Questions and Answers Regarding TMD Commonly Called TMJ

TMD affects over one million people. What is it?

It can be as simple as extreme muscle overuse (clenching and grinding), anatomical damage or wear to the joint. It can also be due to trauma. The history an exam will dictate what course of treatment is necessary.

Is TMD treatable?

Yes, very much so. The right practitioner with the right philosophy and treatment is critical for success.

What does TMJ and TMD stand for?

TMJ stands for temporal mandibular joint And TMD stands for temporal mandibular dysfunction. TMD is more appropriate. The dysfunction can explain causes, symptoms, or disease deterioration.

Who does it effect?

Women, especially of child bearing age are the prime suffers. Then, middle age and geriatric women. Men are also effected, not to the extent women are.

What is the reason TMD causes ear problems?

If your opening and closing jaw muscles are swollen, this will negatively effect the middle ear which is next to the jaw muscles. Tinnitus, vertigo and pressure in the ear can be affected. The neck muscles by your _____ will also secondarily effect this problem.

Can I get TMD headaches?

Yes. The Trigeminal nerve has three divisions. The mandibular, ophthalmic and maxillary divisions. Inflammation of the nerves and blood vessels can cause migraines and headaches. Clenching and grinding can be an instigator of these headaches.

Who diagnoses TMD?

Usually your dentist, but also your ear nose and throat doctor.

When does TMD hurt more?

Usually in the morning or middle of the night. Also when eating or during the day if one is a daytime clencher.

Will sleep be effected by TMD?

Yes it will. The nighttime clenching and grinding will reduce the rem sleep cycle. Poor rem equals poor, restive sleep. One feels like they “didn’t get a good nights sleep.” Electrical stimulation to the brain caused by the jaw grinding muscles doesn’t allow the brain to shut down for appropriate rem sleep.

Should I seek medical care for my TMD?

Generally speaking, your dentist is better equipped to diagnose TMD.

How is hearing affected by TMD?

Your opening and closing jaw muscles are next to the middle ear. If they are inflamed from overuse (night time clenching and grinding),the inflammation spills over to the middle ear. Consequently, you may develop pressure in the ear, ringing in the ear or vertigo. The inflammation needs to be resolved to reduce the middle ear symptoms. The proper dental appliance in conjunction with physical therapy, can improve the situation, if clenching and grinding are the cause of the inflammation.

If my jaw clicks, do I have TMD disorder?

Yes, you do. The problem could be bite related, structural,trauma related, arthritic, or extreme muscle overuse at night.

Do headaches occur if I have TMD?

Yes they can. Headaches and or migraines. These headaches can be in the temporal area or around the eye.

Can wisdom teeth be the cause of TMD?

No. The referred pain from the wisdom teeth make you think it might be TMD.

Is there a link between upper back, neck or under the chin pain from TMD.

Yes. The muscles can get very tight due to clenching night or day and grinding at night. This can translate into serious chronic pain or discomfort.

Can a chiropractor relieve TMD?

Very rarely, especially if it is a para functional muscular disorder. A dentist with the proper knowledge and appliances should be better suited to relieving TMD.

Can a sinus infection be caused by TMD?

No, but TMD can create more pressure in a sinus infection. The ophthalmic and maxillary branch of the trigeminal nerve, if inflamed from TMD will increase the symptoms of sinusitis.

Can my throat area have symptoms related to TMD?

Yes, the pharyngeal muscles can be tight from clenching and grinding movements made at tight. This can be negated with the proper clenching and grinding appliances worn at night.

How are nerves affected by TMD?

With clenching and grinding, the muscles are inflamed. The swelling will actually squeeze the nerves, causing pain and sometimes numbness.

Is TMD covered by insurance?

Sometimes. Depending upon the type of appliance used, it could be treated under medical insurance or dental insurance, but not both.

What doctors diagnose TMD?

Any physician can, but the more knowledgeable are usually the ear, nose, and throat physicians. Any dentist can, but they need to be knowledgeable in temporal mandibular joint dysfunction. Most dentists can diagnose the problem, but can’ successfully treat the problem.

How can I treat TMD and jaw locking muscles?

Certain appliances are used to help reduce the tightness of the jaw muscles. Once they are loosened up, the patient’s jaw range of motion should be reestablished. Along with the appliances, physical therapy for the jaw is will probably be necessary. A night guard will almost never loosen up the jaw muscles.

When should I start treating my TMD symptoms?

When the symptoms become regular and constant. They usually get worse in time. The longer you wait, the harder the case is to treat. If the cause is muscular or structural, it won’t get better with time. The proper intervention is always necessary.

Does TMD affect eating?

Yes, very much so. Your asking very sore and strained muscles to chew. This can be painful. If your jaw opening is limited, this can also make chewing painful. Sore and strained muscles cannot perform, no matter what part of the body we are talking about.

How long does treatment take?

Remember, the longer the problem, the longer the healing. Generally healing can take from two weeks to three months. Tinnitus cases sometimes can take six months. Patient compliance is very important.


© 2016 by Robert Pine