Have you noticed pain in your jaw? Stiffness? Popping and clicking when you're eating, talking or yawning? Unexplained ear pain? Regular headaches? If you're experiencing these symptoms and you're not sure what exactly is going on, you need to schedule an appointment with a dentist to find out. You may be experiencing the onset of an uncomfortable - but treatable - condition known as TMD. Dr. Sean Endsley offers patients living with TMD in Waco and surrounding areas treatment for the condition at any stage.

What Is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint that attaches the jaw to the bottom of the skull. The joints are controlled by muscles that surround them that allow you to open and close your mouth, move your jaw back and forth, and shift it from side to side.

But, these joints can be affected by wear and tear, or they can get out of alignment. When this happens, the pain, inflammation and stiffness of TMD set in. TMD affects about 15 percent of adults and usually shows up between ages 20 and 40. Women tend to have TMD more often than men.

The Symptoms of TMD

The most common symptoms of TMD include pain, stiffness and crepitus, the name for the cracking and popping noises that happen when you open and close your jaw. Other symptoms include:

• Unexplained swelling around the jawline or jaw joints
• Chronic pain in the neck, head or jaw
• Limited motion of the jaw
• Locking or locking sensation of the jaw joint
• Sudden, unexplained tooth sensitivity or tooth pain
• Frequent headaches, especially when waking up in the morning

If you notice these symptoms, it's worth a call to Dr. Endsley for a checkup. While many people believe they can manage TMD symptoms with self-care like rest and eating soft foods, there are a few things you should know about self-treatment while you're waiting for your appointment:

Eat softer foods. Avoid hard foods like raw veggies, nuts and tortilla chips. Aim for healthy foods or cook foods to a softer texture so you can eat comfortably and still get nutrients.

Sleep comfortably. Make sure you are sleeping in a position that doesn't cause jaw discomfort. Sleeping face down or on your side can put uneven pressure on the jaw.

Stop clenching your jaw. Many people living with TMD have developed the condition as a result of clenching their jaw. Jaw clenching can happen at night or during the day when you're stressed. Find ways to relax or channel your stress.

Don't go it alone. You don't have to manage the pain and uncomfortable symptoms of TMD with self-treatment or over-the-counter treatments. Call Dr. Endsley instead to discuss your treatment options.

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