For our team here at Geelan Dental Care, temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are an often diagnosed and treated condition. TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the part of the jaw that is affected by the disorders. You can feel where it is located when you place your fingers just in front of your ear. When you open your mouth, you can feel the joint movement. It is what connects the jaw to the rest of the skull and allows for the up and down motions that permit a person to chew, speak, and yawn. This joint is made up of three parts. The condyle that is shaped like a ball, the glenoid fossa that is referred to as the socket, and a small fibrous disc that sits between the two.

Different kinds of TMDs can affect the use of the jaw and result in damage to supporting muscles. Some conditions are linked to TMDs include teeth malocclusion, bruxism, arthritis, and jaw injury. These disorders are not well understood but, in many instances, can be effectively treated when the cause is identified. The disorder can last from a few days to many years, depending on the cause.

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One of the most common symptoms of TMD is pain or tenderness at the joint area, in front of the ear. This feeling is mostly experienced when moving the jaw to eat or chew. This can also be accompanied by a popping or grating sensation that enhances the discomfort. Another common symptom is pain around the ear and headaches. Facial muscle spasms are another problem. They can make it a trial to speak and gives the sufferer the impression that the front teeth are not meeting properly when the mouth is closed. In some more serious instances, the jaw can be stuck closed or open. Sometimes the sensation can be one of being stuck without it happening.

All these potential symptoms mean that an aspect of the jaw joint or its supporting tissues is damaged. It could be that the protective disc has become eroded, there is damage from a physical blow to the area, or genetically inherited arthritis kicking in. Whatever the cause, there are ways to manage the symptoms and reduce discomfort.


The goal of treating TMDs is to restore the normal, relatively painless function of the jaw joint and facial muscles. Once our team has diagnosed TMD through a physical exam and required x-rays, the next step is to identify a likely cause. The cause will guide us on which treatment plan to follow. For instance, if the malocclusion is diagnosed, braces can be used to correct misalignment. The period the braces will be needed will depend on the severity of the malocclusion. Medication can be used to treat muscle spasms, while mouthguards can help relieve the damaging effect of teeth grinding.

TMDs can seem an intimidating problem, but with our team of professionals, we can quickly make a diagnosis and treatment plan that will greatly improve your quality of life. Contact Geelan Dental Care at (503) 223-1322 to make an appointment today.