What is your temporomandibular joint?
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a ball and socket joint, which is at the junction in front of your ears where your jaw connects to your skull. It is this joint that allows you to open and close your jaw, talk, swallow, eat and chew.
A bad bite as well as improper jaw position can contribute to chronic facial pain for a sufferer of TMD.
TMJ Dysfunction (TMD) can cause facial pain, headaches and migraines…
Due to the close proximity, a common focus of pain is in the ear. Many patients are firstly referred to an ear specialist convinced their pain is the result of an inner ear infection as they can experience ringing in the ears and hearing loss.
When the earache is not associated with infection and the eardrum appears normal, a doctor will often consider the possibility that the pain is caused by a TMJ Dysfunction.
TMD is a condition which can take years to develop and is commonly misdiagnosed as a neck or shoulder muscle problem…
This can be because many TMD sufferers have constant chronic migraine-like headaches, facial and neck muscle pain. Facial swelling can occur on the affected side and your jaw may lock, or you may not be able to open as wide as you should. In addition, when you open your lower jaw, it may deviate to one side. You may find that you favour one side or the other by opening your jaw awkwardly.
This reduced range of motion can be related to muscle spasm or Trismus, and /or may be the result or a disc displacement in the TMJ itself.
Do your teeth fit together properly? This may contribute to TMJ Dysfunction…
Your teeth may not fit together properly (malocclusion), and your bite may feel odd, some patients may also have trouble swallowing because of muscle spasms and even feel nauseous. At Smile Dynamics Wahroonga we can help relieve these symptoms by treating the issue at the source with neuromuscular dentistry.
If you have any of the symptoms listed, you may be an undiagnosed TMD sufferer:
- Jaw pain
- A clicking or popping in the jaw joints
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
- Tooth pain
- Ear pain
- Grinding, also known as Bruxism
- Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus
At Smile Dynamics, we perform a full examination of the TM joints, head, neck and facial muscles, using computer diagnostics to measure the sounds, muscle balance, jaw position and occlusion.
Treatment can vary depending on the individual, although usually a neuromuscular bite splint, which is made to a physiological bite position, is the first step to confirm the diagnosis of TMD. Ultimately, a jaw position and a stable bite that allows for the optimal health of the jaw joints, jaw muscles and the teeth needs to be established.