Your TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, are the joints by which your temples attach to your lower jaw, allowing you to move your mouth. If your TMJ becomes misaligned, stretched, torn, destabilized or otherwise damaged, you may suffer from TMD, or temporomandibular disorder. Even though TMJs are essential to your life—you couldn’t chew, swallow, or speak without them—many people overlook these joints or don’t understand the complexity of TMD. At MedCenter TMJ, Dr. Ronald C. Auvenshine and Dr. Nathan Pettit strive to educate patients about TMD so they can manage this condition and lead more comfortable, happy lives. Our team is committed to help in the management and improvement of your jaw health. It’s all we do! Read on as we describe and dispel five myths about TMD.
1. Not many people suffer from TMD.
If you’ve never even heard of your TMJs, you might assume TMD is a rare condition. However, this simply isn’t true. Most studies suggest that around 10% of the population may suffer from TMD. This means that 1 in 10 Americans (roughly 35 million) are currently dealing with jaw problems. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to suffer from TMD, but everyone is vulnerable to this condition. Learning more about TMD and monitoring your jaw health can help you spot the signs of this disorder so you can improve your oral health.
2. TMD isn’t a major medical concern.
Every person’s experience with TMD is different. Some people experience more serious symptoms than others. It is important to have your temporomandibular function evaluated by a qualified professional and to educate yourself in the need for TMD treatment. Without proper management, TMD can interfere with diet, nutrition, sleep, immune health, orthopedic health, dental health, breathing disorders, neck disorders, and many other important health systems. Conservative management is key to preventing the need for later, more invasive procedures.
3. Migraine headaches are not related to TMD.
One of the most common symptoms of TMD is headache. There are many classifications for headaches. The most common are “tension-type” headaches and “migraine” headaches. The cause of migraine headaches has been investigated for years with no certain conclusions. One of the leading theories suggests that certain triggers cause brain activity and changes to blood vessels in the brain, leading to typical symptoms of a migraine headache. The triggers may vary from person to person, and in many people, these triggers involve muscles. A common misconception is that treatment of TMD will only affect tension-type headaches. However, studies suggest migraine headaches also improve in many cases, likely due to a decrease in muscle triggers.
4. TMD can be cured.
Unfortunately, TMD is a chronic condition that must be managed throughout your life. With proper management, symptoms can be minimized and function can be improved, but there is no cure. Like a bad back or a bad knee, the jaw is a complex orthopedic system that will require continued support. Our doctors will work closely with you to help you manage your TMD symptoms, enhance your well-being, and enjoy your daily life.
5. You need surgery if you have TMD.
Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Pettit view surgery as a last resort for TMD treatment. In our experience, less than one percent of patients truly require surgical intervention. Instead, we typically help our patients improve their oral health by teaching them about their TMJ function, recommending appropriate lifestyle changes, and creating custom made oral appliances to hold the jaw in proper position.
Find Out More About TMD
There are many myths about TMD, but you can take charge of your well-being by educating yourself to understand the true nature of TMJ disorder. Contact us today to learn more about this condition or schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.