TMD: What Is It And How Does It Affect Your Appearance?

Posted on: 6 September 2016


If one side of your face hurts and appears slightly out of alignment with the other side of your face, you may wonder why and what can you do to correct the problems. You may have a problem called temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMD develops if you injure or damage the temporomandibular joint and the muscles and ligaments that support it. The disorder can occur from asymmetrical chewing, or it can show up when you grind your teeth or lose a tooth. Your lower jaw can move slightly out of alignment with your upper jaw over time. Here's more information TMD and asymmetrical chewing and what you can do to fix them.

What Are TMD and Asymmetrical Chewing?

Temporomandibular joint disorder describes multiple problems that affect the tiny joints and soft tissues of the lower jaw. Placing too much stress on the temporomandibular joint tissues can cause a number of issues, including pain and swelling in your temple, jaw and face. One of the causes of the TMD is asymmetrical chewing or chewing on side of the mouth.

A number of people favor one side of the mouth when they chew food. Over time, asymmetrical chewing can wear down the bite surfaces of your teeth until they become uneven. An uneven bite forces your lower jaw, or mandible, to work harder at breaking down food. The stress eventually triggers wear and tear in the soft and hard tissues of the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, that allows the lower jaw to open and close properly.

The tissues of the TMJ can become sore and fatigued from asymmetrical chewing. In some cases, the tissues can increase in size, which may make the affected side of your face appear larger than the unaffected side. If you look in a mirror and examine your face, you may notice that one side does appear bigger than the other side.

Changing your facial profile isn't the only thing TMD can cause. The condition can also make your jaw click or pop when you open your mouth to chew food or speak. You might experience pain in your temple or around your eyes during the day or night. Sleeping on the affected side of your face may be a problem, especially if your tend to bury your face in your pillow. The pressure applied to the temporomandibular joint may keep you up at night or become worse over time.

There are things you can do to treat TMD and correct your facial asymmetry, including seeing a dentist for care.

What Can You Do to Treat Your Problems?

When you see a dentist, they may examine your jaw by X-ray to see how much damage occurred in your temporomandibular joint. If the damage is significant, such as worn down or fractured, a dentist may correct the issue surgically or refer you to a specialist for care. Surgery may include replacing the joint with artificial joint to help stabilize the lower jawbone. 

If surgery isn't needed, a dentist may place you on a treatment plan that includes wearing a splint to hold, relax, and stabilize the jaw and its tissues. The splint is typically a customized mouth guard that fits comfortably over your bottom teeth. You may need to wear the splint nightly, so keep this in mind during your treatment.

After a dentist stabilizes or corrects your TMD, it's a good idea that you sleep on your back to avoid placing stress on your jaw. Also, alternate sides when you chew food. If your face still appears uneven, consider having dental crowns placed to correct your bite. A number of dentist offer full mouth restorations that correct the position and appearance of your teeth, jaws, and gums. If you would like to learn more about restoring your mouth and improving your facial symmetry, consult with a dental provider as soon as possible.

For more information about TMD, contact a dental provider near you today or check out websites like