Our goal is to relieve the pain and discomfort.
The temporomandibular joints attach the lower jaw to the skull just in front of the ears on both sides of the head. This joint, known as the TMJ, is called a gliding joint because it allows movement of the jaw in several directions with a smooth fibrous disc that cushions the joint and reduces friction. Anything that causes damage to the joint or the area around the joint can result in temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Any injury to the jaw, ear, head or neck in the area of the joint can cause problems with the joint.
The habit of grinding your teeth, especially during sleep, is called bruxism. The constant gnashing of the jaws against each other causes wear and tear on the joints. Clenching the teeth during periods of high stress is also damaging.
Any form of arthritis, from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid, can also interfere with the TMJ.
A badly fitting bite makes eating difficult and causes disturbances within the TM joints.
TMD causes significant pain, as the discs wear down and bone becomes exposed. Symptoms include soreness of the area around the joints, pain while chewing or talking, facial pain, a clicking of the joints and—in severe cases—dislocation of the jaw, which locks in an open mouth position.
TMD has to be properly diagnosed. If you are suffering with these symptoms, you should see your dentist. The disorder needs to be differentiated from other causes of facial pain.