What is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder (or dysfunction). Essentially, TMD is an imbalance between the teeth, muscles, and jaw joints. Our objective is to achieve harmony between your teeth, jaw joints, and the muscles that affect the way they move. This is a necessary foundation to achieve lasting results from your restorative dentistry.


TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJs are the joints that hinge the lower jaw (mandible) to the upper jaw (maxilla).

There are many symptoms of TMD that can include:

  • Headache

  • Sore neck

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Popping or grating of the jaw joints

  • Ear pain, itching, or ringing of the ears

  • Jaw pain or discomfort

  • Gum recession

  • Jaw joints locking open or closed

  • Teeth that are worn flat

  • Aching facial muscles

  • Cracked, broken, or loose teeth

  • Sensitive or painful teeth

  • Abfractions (notching of teeth at the gumline)

  • Difficulty keeping your mouth open during dental appointments

  • Feeling that you “can’t find your bite”

What are the causes?

TMD may occur when the teeth don’t fit together correctly (improper occlusion). This may happen naturally, or is sometimes caused by trauma or a medical condition such as arthritis. While some people have improper occlusion and never develop TMD, others experience an imbalance to the degree that the muscles react. The body often responds by clenching or grinding in an effort to correct the imbalance. This can lead to many of the symptoms listed above.

How do I know if I have TMD?

Diagnosis begins by talking with you about your symptoms and history. Then we will do a thorough examination of your head and neck muscles, jaw joints, and a complete oral examination to rule out other causes and determine whether the problem is in fact TMD.

What can be done about it?

We may recommend an orthotic appliance fitted to your lower teeth to balance your bite. The appliance will be meticulously adjusted over a six to twelve week period. Experience has shown us that a well-balanced bite will allow the muscles to relax and many of the symptoms will disappear. This process is both diagnostic and therapeutic, and is completely reversible. After we have stabilized your bite on an appliance, we can discover together what changes are necessary on your teeth to maintain stability for the long term. This is a very individual process, ranging from slight adjustment of the teeth to comprehensive full-mouth rehabilitation.

If you are concerned you may have TMD,
call us at 406-540-1342 for a complimentary consultation
regarding your condition.

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