How Did I Get TMD?

Millions of American adults have some form of TMJ disorder, causing them daily pain and difficulty. For many people, the exact cause of their TMD is difficult to pinpoint, because genetic as well as environmental factors could both be contributing to the problem. Some of the most common issues that cause or contribute to TMD include:


With malocclusion, the upper and lower teeth do not line up properly, throwing your bite off kilter. Malocclusion is typically caused by overcrowding and can result in an overbite or an underbite. If your bite is misaligned enough, it can affect the jaw muscles and joints, causing undue stress on them when you bite down and open your mouth wide. There are various ways to fix malocclusion, with orthodontic treatment being the most common.

Mouth Breathing

Whether it’s during the day or while sleeping, mouth breathing can have very noticeable effects on your oral and overall health, including TMD. Conditions like enlarged tonsils, deviated septum, enlarged adenoids, chronic sinus infections or allergies make it difficult to breathe consistently through your nose, so you have to use your mouth to breathe, which is less beneficial for the body. People who breathe predominantly through their mouths tend to strain their jaw ligaments. In some case, an oral appliance can help to open up the airway to prevent mouth breathing and relieve the stress on your jaw.


Clinically known as bruxism, teeth clenching and grinding usually occurs during sleep. While the cause of bruxism is not always clear, in many cases, it has to do with stress. However, since people tend to grind their teeth mostly while asleep, they may not even know they have bruxism. The added stress on the jaw from chronic clenching and griding can make TMD symptoms worse, causing jaw pain, headaches, neck pain, earaches, and more. A combination of stress-relief strategies and a nightguard are often used to mitigate the effects of bruxism.


Whether it’s a sports injury, a car accident, a slip and fall, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, accidents happen, and there is no way to predict when or where. When an accident results in trauma to the face, particularly the mouth, it can have lasting effects beyond the immediate injury that do not manifest right away, including TMD. Facial trauma can cause TMD in a person who has never had jaw problems or exacerbate it in someone who only had mile symptoms before. Depending on the case, an oral appliance can help to alleviate TMD symptoms brought on by trauma.