Ask Dr. Stewart About TMD

tmdstewartDr. James Stewart is a general and cosmetic dentist from Livonia, MI. Today, Dr. Stewart answers a question about a surprisingly-widespread-but-rarely-discussed issue: TMJ Disorder.

Dear Dr. Stewart: I’ve noticed lately that my jaw either makes this popping or crackling sound. Is this something serious? Do I see a dentist or my doctor?

Dr. Stewart: It does sound like you may have a problem, a TMJ disorder to be exact. For some people, a TMJ disorder isn’t major, but others actually have trouble opening and closing their mouths because of it. Plus, you might have other symptoms that seem unrelated but are actually quite common with a TMJ disorder, such as chronic headaches or earaches.

I recommend seeing a dental professional who offers treatment for TMJ disorders, which occurs when your jaw joints (temporomandibular joints, or TMJs) become strained. Causes of TMJ disorders include everything from an injury to tooth grinding or a bad bite.

In many cases of TMJ disorders, treatment is simple: an oral appliance. The appliance will look like a night guard but will hold the jaw in place during the night to prevent straining. You might start noticing a lot less popping or crackling with regular use.

If you have a question about your oral health and what you can do to enjoy a healthier smile and higher quality of life, contact Dr. James Stewart by calling (734) 425-4400 or visiting his website at