A variety of issues may contribute to temporomandibular disorders (TMD), including injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or muscles of the head and neck. In addition, TMD may be caused by one of the following:

  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Dislocation of the soft cartilage disc between the ball and socket in the TMJ
  • Trauma to the head, neck, and jaw, including whiplash
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
  • Stress, which can lead to teeth clenching and tightened muscles

In addition to these physiological causes of TMD, there are several additional common risk factors, including:

  • Gender. Women make up nearly 90% of people who seek treatment for TMD. Current research is exploring possible links between hormones and TMD, as well as higher levels of coincident pain experienced by women. Most findings, though, are not at all conclusive.
  • Age. Most TMD patients are between the ages of 30 and 50. Age is not a causal factor, but is often coincident with causes such as arthritis and external stressors.
  • Diet. What you eat can have a significant impact on your TMD symptoms. Tough, chewy food can exaggerate current conditions, such as arthritis and cartilage wear, by making your jaw work more than normal.

There may also be a link between TMD and the quality of your sleep. Depending on your posture, you may inadvertently be aggravating some of your TMD symptoms when you sleep. You may also clench or grind your teeth when you sleep, both common factors in TMD. Sleeping on your back is one of the better ways to combat this. It creates more support for the head, neck, and shoulders, while relieving pressure on the jaw. It also reduces the likelihood of clenching or grinding teeth.

Your dentist, Dr. Chetan Parikh, may be able to identify the specific cause of your TMJ disorder upon close examination and consultation. We encourage you to contact Chetan Parikh, DMD, MDS, DABDSM today if you suffer from pain and discomfort caused by the TMJ in Rockville, Maryland.