TMJ/TMD and Therapy

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction encompasses a broad range of problems and symptoms. Many names are used by different doctors and patients. The term TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint. TMJ dysfunction, also called TMD, is a disease process. TMD is a painful cycle that occurs when the teeth, chewing muscles, and jaw joints are failing to work harmoniously together. It can begin by clenching or grinding the teeth, a misaligned bite, trauma to the joint itself, arthritis, or emotional stress. The most common cause of TMJ pain is myofascial pain dysfunction, which involves the muscles for chewing.

The Joint Explained

The temporomandibular joint, found in front of your ears on both sides, connects your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull (temporal bone) via a set of muscles and ligaments. There is a firm disc between the mandible and the temporal bone that is biconcave, meaning it is concave on each side. This is called the articular disc. In normal function it rides between the two bones as your mandible moves, cushioning and protecting the bones. The TMJ is the only joint in the body that requires perfectly simultaneous coordination between both joints on both sides to work properly. There is a series of large and small muscles that function primarily to open, close, and make fine adjustments to the mandibular movement. The masseter (at the side of your jaw) and anterior temporalis (at your temples) are the outside closing muscles. Inside your mouth are the medial and lateral pterygoids, which close and adjust fine mandible movements. There are small muscles called the digastricus under your tongue which open the lower jaw. It is important to know that all the other muscles of your head, neck, and even shoulders and upper back participate in more extreme movements of your mandible like wide opening or clenching. Because of this, your lower jaw position plays a major role in head and neck posture, even affecting the shoulders and upper and lower back.

 

The most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Facial pain

  • Jaw joint pain

  • Back, neck, or cervical pain

  • Postural problems (forward head posture)

  • Pain in the face

  • Limited opening of the mouth

  • Headaches

  • Clenching/bruxing

  • Teeth sensitivity to cold

  • Deviation of the jaw to one side

  • The jaw locking open or closed

  • Sinus-like symptoms

  • Dizziness or vertigo

  • Visual disturbances

  • Tingling in fingers and hands

  • Insomnia – difficulty sleeping

  • Ringing in the ears, ear pain, and ear congestion feelings

  • Pain in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joints

  • Pain in the occipital (back), temporal (side), frontal (front), or sub-orbital (below the eyes)

  • Pain behind the eyes – dagger and ice pick feelings

 

 

 

If you are experiencing TMD and would like to hear about a treatment option that can offer some relief then contact us at, 

Cosmetic and Family Dentistry 734-847-1955

for a TMD Orthotic Appliance Consultation.

The material contained on this website is offered as information only and not as professional advice. Users should consult their own dental professionals for such advice.