What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is what joins the temporal bone and mandible of the jaw. It is an articulated joint, meaning that it is bifurcated by a disc to allow rotational and translational movements of the jaw. The TMJ is quite small, but it serves an essential function: opening and closing the mouth.

Because of its function and position in the head, as well as the frequency of its use, the TMJ has a significant impact on the whole body. So when it doesn’t work properly because of incorrect positioning, it will become apparent very quickly and will manifest in a multitude of ways.

The symptoms of TMJ disorders, or simply TMJD, can be divided into acute or chronic pain. These include but are not limited to:

  • Back pain
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Distinct clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Earache
  • Facial pain
  • Headache or migraine
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Loss of hearing
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)

Physicians who are consulted by those who suffer TMJD seldom pinpoint the problem at once because some of the symptoms don’t seem to have anything to do with that little cartilage at the side of the face. But once a suspicion arises and the patient is referred to a TMJD specialist or neuromuscular dentist, the solution is just a matter of pinpointing the optimal positioning of the TMJ and choosing the appropriate treatment modality. In most cases, TMJD treatment involves the fitting of an intraoral appliance or orthotic for up to 6 months and then orthodontic treatment.

It may sound simple, but diagnosis and treatment of TMJD is not easy for dentists who have no experience in treating the disorder. To get effective relief from orofacial pain, consult with a neuromuscular dentist as soon as possible.


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