The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are joints that connect your lower jaw bone to your skull. They act like a sliding hinge we use while talking, chewing, swallowing, and yawning. Disorders of the TMJ, known as temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), are disorders of these joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, and/or nerves associated with facial pain.
Symptoms of TMD
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of your TMJs
- Pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
Seek medical attention if you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can't open or close your jaw completely. Your doctor, dentist, or an orofacial pain specialist can discuss potential causes and treatment.
Causes of TMD
The cause/s of TMD is/are often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of factors such as genetics, arthritis, or injury. Some people have jaw pain and also clench or grind their teeth, however, many people clench or grind their teeth and never develop TMD.
- Resting the TMJ (eg soft diet)
- Relaxation techniques and stress management
- Behavior/habit changes
- Physical therapy
- An orthopedic appliance worn in the mouth (to reduce tooth clenching/grinding)
- Posture training
- Dietary changes
- Ice and/or hot packs
Role of Orthodontics
Establishing an orthopedically stable relationship between the position of your teeth and joint is important for proper masticatory function throughout your lifetime. While in most situations orthodontic treatment neither causes nor prevents TMD, the orthodontist is in an excellent position to provide orthopedic stability to the masticatory structures. Treatment goals are aimed at establishing at proper occlusion and stabilizing the masticatory structures.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office!