My Experience With Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

Updated on January 4, 2019
emilybee profile image

I've had TMD and want to share my experience to help others who may be going through the same thing.

TMD headaches can really be a drag and effect daily routines.
TMD headaches can really be a drag and effect daily routines. | Source


Temporomandibular joint disorders occur due to problems with the jaw or jaw joints and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and movement.

TMD sufferers experience a wide array of symptoms that can vary from one person to another, in terms of severity, and includes headaches, depression, jaw pain, stiffness or “locked” feeling in the mouth, and difficulty chewing.

Currently, I am a second-time braces wearer (first time was when I was in third grade), but I can deal with the pain that other people find terribly irritating because I’ve had braces before — and because my TMD pain kicks the braces pain hardcore.


Many different scenarios can lead to TMD.

  • Physical Injury to the jaw region can leave a person with serious TMD related problems.

An uncle of mine mentioned that the TMD disorder runs in our family. I thought this was peculiar until I was informed that further research has been done that backs up this theory.

  • Genetics can, in fact, play a role in the creation of TMD.

Besides genetics, I have encountered TMD in another way as well. Since I had braces young, and the overbite issue was neither addressed or fixed, over the years my situation became more severe. My overbite became more pronounced.

  • A jaw growing at the wrong place or in the wrong position, direction, or sequence can lead to TMD.

Haha, a clever cartoon that will if nothing else brighten your day.
Haha, a clever cartoon that will if nothing else brighten your day. | Source

My Experience

After getting my braces off the first time, my parents recognized that my overbite still existed. Having had no insurance at the time, perhaps the service completed was not exceptionally great.

But, besides the overbite, my teeth looked fine, until...


Last year, a few months before my graduation from college, I noticed something tragic. I could feel my four, center bottom teeth moving which was creating some serious crowding. As for my top teeth, my gap that had been gone for years was coming back between my two front teeth. I freaked. After graduation, I went to the orthodontist not wanting to be there at all and thinking how old I was!

I initially thought I could do the “easy approach” and that there must be something quick to fix my teeth since they honestly didn’t look that bad. I figured maybe a custom made retainer would suffice. This wasn’t the case and when I was told I had to get braces again to correct this I thought, yeah right. And when I heard that orthodontic surgery would be the only way to correct everything, since I’ve already had braces once, I thought most definitely not!

Well, it’s funny how things work out. I’m in braces now and planning on surgery sometime this summer - (update - surgery was successfully completed August 2011). I decided today to write this hub because I honestly don’t know much about TMD, although I supposedly have it. Here’s some reading material to keep y'all informed, with regards to symptoms.

Simple things like biting into an apple can be painful for TMD sufferers (or braces-wearers).
Simple things like biting into an apple can be painful for TMD sufferers (or braces-wearers).

Symptoms I Had


Ibuprofen is supposedly pretty bad on the stomach and possibly causes ulcers and such. I take it quite often for my throbbing headaches, which are nonstop 24/7. They aren’t always throbbing but vary throughout the day. Some mornings, I wake up feeling excellent with very mild headaches that I can deal with.


I sometimes wake up feeling so exhausted, even on nine or so hours of sleep. Every bone in my body is yelling. The last thing I want to do is go to work, or get out of bed, on days like this. Similarly related to TMD depression is the headaches, previously discussed. Something about throbbing head pain which oftentimes continues down into the shoulders, back, neck and ears, equate and account for why this depression occurs. Thus, it is not sporadic and TMD symptoms do relate and correspond with one another. Target the pain and the depression symptoms will decrease too, or at least that is my theory.


I’ll acknowledge that I have jaw stiffness but I’m lucky to not have the “locked” jaw effect. My jaw has never seized and “locked” up on me, but it does click quite often around the back of the jaw and near the ear. Locked jaw is definitely something to be wary of. Some TMD sufferers swear by use of cold ice or warm heat packs to be applied to the jaw area to help soothe.


Many TMD sufferers have reported an inability to chew certain tough foods, like steak. As for me, my jaw chews things well, or maybe I don’t notice its faultiness due to other symptoms previously discussed. Or maybe I love eating so much that I try not to worry about what I cannot eat. It’s bad enough I can’t eat those gooey little Samoas — my favorite Girl Scout cookie.

What to Do

The symptoms are endless for people with TMD disorder and varying. The symptoms of one sufferer may not coincide with someone else’s symptoms.

  • Check with your dentist or orthodontist and ask what they suggest is the best option for you. TMD disorder may not be discussed without you first expressing an interest.

I approached my dentist and we asked him what we should do and/or if he agreed that I should proceed to look into orthodontics. He answered that orthodontics were obviously needed but that his job is to clean my teeth. I have very clean teeth and therefore his place was not to discuss any other matter with me, such as the need for orthodontics.


You should seek assistance if you have head or jaw pain that may be associated with TMD and if it is causing you problems. Depending on the severity of your TMD case and the symptoms you have, different options are available.

My teeth and TMD could have been fixed more easily if I wasn’t a full-blown adult. My jaw is now fully grown and cannot be adjusted by means of braces and a retainer. TMD sufferers who are younger should definitely attempt to fix all issues while still young and growing for it is so much simpler, cheaper and much less painful.

  • First, just take a few minutes to Google some information on this disorder and/or check out the links here on my article, where you can read up and get informed.
  • Second, if in pain and experiencing symptoms similar to other people with TMD, find a good orthodontist to speak to about your options.
  • Third, if the time comes to discuss surgery, GET AN EXCELLENT SURGEON — like mine. Find one that frequently does jaw surgeries and is very experienced and highly regarded.


I hope my experience, as well as suggestions and a little bit of information on TMD, has helped you and loved ones understand what you are going through. Relax, and sooner or later your TMD pain will be diminished, as long as you take the necessary steps to rid TMD pain.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • emilybee profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hello Gooner- Do you have an overbite or underbite? Would the surgery be only to correct your suspicion of having TMJ? If I were you, I'd ask your orthodontist for a referral to a maxillofacial surgeon. The surgeon will be very helpful in giving you feedback on whether or not you actually need the surgery. Basically, the surgery was not a fun surgery and it should only be done if it's required. For me, it had to be done to correct my overbite. I should note that the surgery was VERY successful in correcting my bite, but I DO still have some TMJ symptoms-such as headaches, dizziness, etc. If you would like, please check this hub where I wrote about the surgery procedure, If you have any more questions please don't be afraid to stop by again and ask me any. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi emilybee, extremely useful article on TMJ. I too am going through a similar process in which I need to have train track braces again for 8 months to correct the problem. I have been putting it off for months now but I believe TMJ is giving me back and neck pains too. Could you give a rough idea of what your surgery consisted off and where I could look into getting it done? many thanks

    • emilybee profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hello KoffeeKlatch Gals! Thanks for stopping by. Headaches are quite annoying. Luckily though, I'm finding there are things to help people with limiting the frequency of them. Mine seem to like to stick around, but I'm always looking for new options to eliminate headaches. I had a TMJ related surgery in August, and luckily that helped with the jaw pain - but not entirely on the headaches. Guess ya can't win them all! Thanks for the votes and comment.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      TMJ sounds awful. When you jaw or teeth hurt along with a headache it's hard to focus on anything. Great information. Up, useful and interesting.

    • emilybee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks Ben and I'll add your link into this article too. I try to regularly floss (a little harder with braces) and the back massager thing sounds interesting. It's confusing to me though because I know many people have TMJ and they find remedies but supposedly my overbite is too great for anything besides surgery. Hmmm... Thanks for the tips.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I feel your pain Emilybee. I wrote a hub article on the subject, hope you don't mind if I link it here:

      I added a link to this article on that one.

      Two things that have helped my tmj, using a back massager regularly on my jaw, and also flossing.

      Hope that helps!


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Fantastic! Congratulations. Always suspected you were a winner!! Audrey

    • emilybee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      That's awesome, thanks so much for reading it vocalcoach! I actually finished my hub challenge on the 2nd of April, did it for the month of March.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Great hub on TMJ. Like many others I suffered with this for years. The actor Burt Reynolds had TMJ so bad, he lost about 50 pounds from it. Also, wanted to tell you that I read your very good article "flying across the keys" on ehow just now. Tried to leave a comment, but for some reason, it didn't let me. You are doing a super job on your 30 hubs! :)vocalcoach

    • emilybee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Ha no it isn't a whole lot of fun but thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Cogerson profile image


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Temporomandibular joint disorder does not sound like much fun....thanks for the interesting and informative hub on a painful subject....voted up


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