Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a complex and poorly understood set of conditions characterized by pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues and limitations in jaw movements. Scientists have found that most patients with TMD also experience painful conditions in other parts of the body. These comorbid conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic headache, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, sleep disorders, and vulvodynia. Approximately 12% of the population or 35 million people in the U.S. are affected by TMD at any given time; a majority are women in their childbearing years. Most people with TMD have relatively mild or periodic symptoms which may improve on their own within weeks or months with simple home therapy. The short-term use of over-the-counter pain medications or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may provide temporary relief from jaw and muscle discomfort. There is no medical or dental specialty of qualified experts trained in the care and treatment of TMD. As a result, there are no established standards of care in clinical practice. If you think you have TMD, see a medical doctor to rule out some other conditions which can mimic TMD, such as tumors or other types of orofacial pain. If your physician does not diagnose a problem that is routinely treated by physicians, you may be referred to a dentist. Whether you seek health care from either a medical or dental practitioner, it is recommend obtaining multiple independent opinions in order to confirm your diagnosis, and receive treatment options.
Description Last Updated: Dec 20, 2018