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Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - What Happens

The course of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) caused by muscle tension varies depending on the cause of the muscle tension.

  • If muscle tension is related to a one-time overuse injury (such as holding your mouth open for a long time during a dental exam), the pain and discomfort may go away without treatment.
  • If there is long-lasting (chronic) muscle tension due to stress, anxiety, an injury or blow to the jaw, or habits like grinding the teeth during sleep, treatment (including changing certain habits) may relieve pain and discomfort. If chronic muscle tension is not treated, it may gradually cause changes in the joint structure or osteoarthritis.

TMDs caused by problems in the structure of the jaw joint camera.gif may:

  • Respond well to nonsurgical treatment, if treated early.
  • Get worse, if not treated. Long-term consequences include injury to the disc or other tissues in the joint, arthritis, or chronic pain.

Chronic pain

In some cases, TMDs can be extremely painful and disabling and last a long time. Such chronic pain can affect a person's overall quality of life by increasing stress, making it hard to do a job, and interfering with personal life. Depression and anxiety are common results of chronic pain. Treatments may not relieve pain due to the lasting psychological and biological impact of chronic pain. These biological effects can lead to a sense of helplessness and biochemical changes in the body that perpetuate pain. In these cases, it is especially important to seek treatment for TMD pain and for related depression and anxiety.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

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    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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