TMD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. TMJ stands for the joint in your jaw that connects your jaw to your skull. This joint is also responsible for the movement of your jaw when you speak, chew, and make faces.
When there is a dysfunction in your jaw or the jaw’s joints or muscles, this can make moving the jaw difficult and painful. TMD is closely associated with teeth grinding, arthritis, bite problems, and oral trauma, though there is no known direct cause.
If you suffer from any of these conditions, you have an increased risk of developing TMD. It can be described as a condition that limits the mobility of the jaw and causes severe pain that radiates through other areas of the face, ears, and head.
A night guard or oral splint made of acrylic plastic that is worn while the patient sleeps can help prevent teeth grinding and relieve the symptoms of TMD. The guard places a cushion between your teeth, which prevents you from grinding and wearing down your teeth.
Bruxism (teeth grinding) greatly increases your risk of damaging your teeth by cracking, chipping, or breaking them. With a night guard, you don't have to worry about this. The guard will also reduce your risk of clenching your jaw, which is associated with causing jaw pain and immobility.
The guard relieves the pressure you place on the jaw, which reduces TMD symptoms like jaw pain, clicking sound, lockjaw, and headaches.
While TMJ is not a life-threatening disorder, it can greatly reduce your quality of life if you leave it untreated. Living with TMJ can leave you with jaw pain, headaches, lack of mobility, difficulty eating and speaking, inflammation of the jaw that can result in serious joint damage, damage to your teeth, tinnitus, difficulty getting quality sleep, irritability, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. These symptoms can become worse over time.