TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joints. TMJ disorders affects as many as 10 million Americans, and women seem to have a higher rate of incidences than men.

TMJ disorders, known as TMD, falls into three main categories:

  • Myofascial pain – The most common form of TMD that results in discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw functions and the neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Internal derangement of the joint – This occurs when there is a dislocated or displaced disc or injury to the condyle.
  • Degenerative joint disease – Characterized by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint.

The Causes and Symptoms of TMD

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (the mandible) to the temporal bone at the side of the head. When you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of the head.

Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side enabling us to talk, chew, and yawn. But in some people, this joint and the attached muscles can become stressed, overworked, or just painful to use.

Symptoms of TMD may surface gradually over time and are unique to each patient, but some of the more common symptoms can include:

  • Pain when you chew, yawn, or stretch your mouth or jaw joint.
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or face or stiff jaw muscles.
  • Lock-jaw or limited movement of the jaw joint.
  • Painful clicking or popping of your jaw joint.
  • Changes in the fit of your teeth, or alignment of your upper and lower jaw.

Possible TMJ Treatment Options

Dr. McLeod offers patients several possible treatments, depending on the specific diagnosis. Sometimes, a mouth guard can be created to stop teeth from grinding during the night. At other times, it may be necessary to prescribe muscle relaxants. Realignment, which changes the shape of teeth to get rid of a bad bite, is also an option.

Dr. Neil S. McLeod is located at 9201 Sunset Blvd. and serves patients in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Studio City and other nearby communities.