Female dentist looking at her patients teeth to determine if she has TMD.

What Exactly is TMD

Just about everyone has experienced jaw pain at some point. The extent of the pain can range from mild to severe depending on the reason. Jaw pain can be associated with different dental issues, however, in many cases the pain is related to temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In this blog, let’s go more in depth as to what TMD is, its symptoms, and the treatments.

What is TMJ and TMD?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint which has a series of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones that help move the jaw side to side, backward and forward. Essentially, this joint acts similar to a sliding hinge connecting your jawbone to the skull. When something flares up within this joint, such as the muscles and ligaments that surround it, you will have difficulty moving your jaw and pain can result.  The result can be classified as TMD or temporomandibular disorder.

TMD Symptoms:

The best way to identify TMD symptoms is to meet with your dentist and review the symptoms that you are experiencing.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Tooth pain
  • Swelling on either side of your face
  • Pain or discomfort when chewing
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Having difficulty when opening or closing your mouth
  • Clicking sound when you open and close your mouth

Unfortunately there is not one main cause of TMD, however there are many contributing factors and therefore TMD can develop if you have any one of these conditions.

  • Chewing too much gum
  • Erosion over time of the discs in your jaw
  • Chronic clenching or grinding of your teeth
  • Tightening of your facial and jaw muscles caused by stress or anxiety
  • An injury to your jaw

Diagnosing TMD:

So how do you know when it is time to make an appointment with your dentist? If you are experiencing continuous jaw pain, tenderness or difficulty opening and closing your mouth, it is time to make the appointment. Your dentist will feel around your jaw joints when you open and close your mouth and observe your range of motion when opening and closing your mouth. Other ways to diagnose TMD are panoramic X-rays, cone beam computed tomography scans, and an MRI.


If you have been diagnosed with TMD, your dentist may discuss some at-home solutions to relieve the symptoms. Anti-inflammatories are one of the most beneficial medications used to treat TMD. There are also some non-surgical interventions that your dentist might suggest such as oral splints and/or physical therapy.

If you are experiencing persistent jaw pain, contact Downtown Franklin Family Dentistry. Dr. Abrams can discuss your symptoms and develop a treatment plan. Give us a call at 615-595-6111 or fill out our contact form to schedule your appointment.