“TMJ DISORDER”¬†is often a catch all term used to describe dysfunction of the jaw muscles and joints. It¬†can be as minor as slight clicking or popping sensation when the mouth is opened or closed, or as serious as persistent pain extending into the face, neck and shoulders affecting posture and even mobility.
The temporomandibular joints connect the jawbone to the skull and are located just in front of each ear. They are sliding “ball and socket‚ÄĚ joints and are dependent upon proper alignment to work smoothly. They are also the most complex and frequently used joints in your body, cycling over 2,000 times per day. You can feel the joints working by placing your fingers on them while opening and closing your mouth.
What Are Signs of TMJ Disorder?
When the joints are not working properly you may experience the following:
- Pronounced noises associated with movement in the joints (clicking, and popping)
- Pain when the jaw is opened fully
- Limited range of opening
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Facial pain and a sense of facial muscle fatigue
- Ear pain not related to ear infections
- Occasional‚ÄĚ locking” when the jaw seems to ” stick open” temporarily
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Frequent headaches
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder may develop for any number of reasons:
- Lost or crooked teeth
- Overbite teeth that fit together poorly
- Degenerative arthritis various head or neck injuries including whip lash
- Stress causing clenched teeth and muscle spasm
- Orthotic devices
- Prescription medication
- Self-Care techniques
- Physical Therapy
If you suffer pain or discomfort you believe may be related to your TM joints, please ask for help. Successful treatment begins with gentle, experienced care.
- Dr. Tongela Williams, Dentist, Beautiful Smiles-Clinton, MD