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One of the most serious potential issues many orthodontists deal with is a set of conditions called temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD. TMD issues result from a problem with the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge connecting the bones in your skull to the bones of your jaw.

At Bluffton Orthodontics, we’re here to help you prevent TMD from becoming a problem for yourself or anyone in your family. Here are the risk factors and symptoms for TMD, plus how to prevent it.

TMD Risk Factors

In general, women are at higher risk for TMD than males. The disorder is most common among adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Other risk factors for TMD may include:

  • Arthritis in the jaw area, which can make movement much more difficult
  • Excessive tooth grinding, which will increase stress on the temporomandibular joint
  • General stress, which leads to clenching of the teeth and straining of the facial muscles

TMD Symptoms

Symptoms of TMD can range in length – some will last a short period, while others may be present for months or even years. If symptoms make it uncomfortable or impossible for you to eat normally, or if you have pain or discomfort that’s simply too much to bear, you should speak to your orthodontist right away. Symptoms can occur on both sides of the face, and can include:

  • Aching or tired facial muscles
  • Jaws that are fixed open or shut without you being able to do anything about it
  • Grating or popping sounds when you chew, or anytime you open or close your mouth
  • Pain in the entire mouth area, often brought on by chewing or yawning

TMD Prevention

Reducing the risk factors above is one way to prevent TMD. If you grind your teeth, for instance, ask your orthodontist about a mouth guard to wear at night. If you’re stressed, look for ways to manage this. In addition, many people trying to avoid TMD will limit chewing gum, which puts stress on the jaw.

For more on preventing TMD, or to find out about ceramic braces or any of our other braces services, speak to the experts at Bluffton Orthodontics today.