Temporomandibular Disorder, more commonly called TMD, is a neuromuscular imbalance of your jaw and facial muscles that leads to various pain patterns throughout your head and neck region, including earaches, clogged ears, and headaches. Many people used to refer to this disorder (and still do) as TMJ, which actually stands for Temporomandibular Joint, the name of the main jaw joint that is often at the center of the pain.
TMD can be quite debilitating. It can worsen over time and seriously affect your quality of life. Although stress is a common underlying component of TMD, it’s the repeated aberrant mechanical use of your jaw and its muscles that causes the pain. If you are prone to TMD, habits such as grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep, clenching during daily activities or while playing sports, and chewing gum can cause or exacerbate symptoms.
An often overlooked component of TMD is an unstable bite relationship of your teeth. This can generate many detrimental forces on your joint and muscles, making you more prone to symptoms.