Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
Causes of TMD?
TMD symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Some people speak of having sporting injuries to the jaw, or the muscles of the head and neck maybe from a car accident from a whiplash or heavy blow to the neck area. Any of these can lead to TMD and this can occur when you are very young as a child or in your teenage years.
Other causes could be from grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint, arthritis or stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD often causes severe pain and discomfort which can be temporary or last many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face. More women than men suffer from TMD, and this is because of the higher levels of testosterone in males which fight off some of these symptoms. The most common age group is between 20 and 40. Common symptoms include:
Treatment for TMJ
An accurate diagnosis is very important to ensure that the right treatment is undertaken. Our dentists will make a diagnosis based on a clinical examination, your medical and dental history. We will examine your bite, tooth wear and movement of teeth.
Effective treatment should lessen or relieve your pain, restore your jaw function and minimise the clicking noise from your jaw joint.
A simple approach consisting of a modified diet, physiotherapy, warm or cold packs, relaxation and stress management along with any medication that may be prescribed in the first instance.
If this is not successful, an Occlusal Splint maybe required. The main function of an Occlusal Splint is to take pressure off the jaw joints and teeth. These are usually worn at night and should not have any permanent effect on the position of teeth. An impression is taken and a customised splint is made. You will be monitored on a regular basis for some months.