Practice in General Dentistry and Orofacial Pain Management

Norwood Dental Associates
200 Norwood Avenue, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

Phone: (732) 663-1200
Fax: (732) 663-1222

Silver Ridge Dental
569 Lakehurst Road, Toms River, NJ 08755

Phone: (732) 914-0500        
Fax: (732) 914-8788


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Factors Associated with TMD


Direct trauma to the jaws has been scientifically associated with the onset of TMD symptoms.  Direct trauma to the jaws can occur from a blow to the jaw, hyperextension (overstretching) of the jaw, and in some cases, compression of the jaw.  Lengthy or forceful dental procedures, intubation for general anesthesia and surgical procedures of the mouth, throat, and upper GI tract (esophagus and stomach) can traumatize the TMJs.



Habits such as tooth and jaw clenching, tooth grinding (bruxism), lip biting, fingernail biting, gum chewing, and abnormal posturing of the jaws are common and have not been scientifically proven to result in TMD.  Jaw habits are often associated with TMD and may be contributing factors that perpetuate and aggravate ongoing TMD symptoms.


Dental occlusion refers to the way the teeth fit together or the “bite”.  Historically, the dental profession has viewed malocclusion (abnormal bite) as a primary causative factor in TMD.  Recent valid research studies have shown that malocclusion is usually not the cause of TMD except in a  limited number of cases.  There may be situations when the way the teeth fit together may play a contributing role in the initiation or progression of those limited situations.   Each case needs to be individually evaluated by the orofacial pain doctor to determine a possible relationship.


Many patients with TMD report the onset of jaw dysfunction symptoms or aggravation of preexisting TMD symptoms with increases in emotional stress or psychological imbalance such as depression or anxiety.  Scientific studies indicate that many TMD patients experience levels of depression and anxiety that are higher than the non-TMD population.  To date, it has not been established whether depression or anxiety is present prior to the onset of TMD and contributes to its cause, or whether the chronic pain associated with TMD leads to anxiety and depression.  Many patients will increase their level of tooth clenching and grinding when they experience emotional stress, psychological imbalance or pain.


Several types of arthritis may develop in the TMJs like any other joint in the body.  It is common for osteoarthrosis to be present in the aging population.  Many other diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Myasthenia Gravis, strokes, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), may lead to excessive or uncontrolled jaw muscle activity.


Abuse of drugs and the use of certain prescription medications can affect the central nervous system and muscles and contribute to TMD.


This page was updated on November 13, 2011

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