Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on both sides of the face connecting the jawbone (mandible)to the skull (temporal bone). They are complicated joints that allow us to open our mouths and move our jaws.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs) include a number of diseases that involve the jaw joints resulting in spasm, muscle fatigue, joint dysfunction, even changes in the teeth which themselves can cause a variety of symptoms.
TMD occurs when there is an unhealthy bite, usually due to an unhealthy relationship between the upper and lower jaws. What most typically occurs is that the lower jaw is usually set farther back from the upper jaw. The primary symptoms of TMD is discomfort and abnormal noises originating from the jaw.
Other possible causes include:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
The typical prognosis for TMD is the repositioning of the upper and lower jaws through splint therapy. Splint therapy can be divided into two phases, with the first phase being the placement of a splint between the upper and lower jaws. After wearing this splint for a period of time, phase two, or orthodontics, is started. Through orthodontics, the teeth are literally repositioned.
Both phases of this prognosis are dependent upon the severity of the patient’s TMD. Symptoms can appear gradually with no specific cause or as a result of an accident or blow to the face. TMJ / TMD affects millions of children and adults. If you think you have TMD, please come in and we can discuss both the severity of the dysfunction as well as possible prognoses.
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