Temporo-mandibular joint is the human body jaw joint frequently called “TMJ”. The name comes from the two bones which form the joint: the upper temporal bone which is part of the skull, and the the lower jaw bone called the mandible.
TMJ pain or dysfunction is in fact temporo-mandibular joint disorder (or dysfunction) and is abbreviated “TMD”. The TMD term is used for problems involving the TMJs and the muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and other tissues associated with them. Sometimes practitioners my refer to the neck, the back and even the whole body to describe TMJ problems.
Disorders of the TMJ can cause pain which usually occurs in or around the ears or lower jaw. The TMJ hinges the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull and is responsible for the ability to chew or talk.
TMJ disorders may occur due to different types of problems such as face injury, arthritis, or jaw muscle fatigue from clenching or grinding teeth habit. Habitual clenching or grinding of teeth, medical known as “bruxism,” can cause pain in the joints, jaw muscles, and the teeth involved.
Bruxism is present often due to life “stress,” family history of bruxism, and poor bite alignment. Sometimes, muscles around the TMJ used for chewing can go into spasm. This causes head and neck pain and even difficulty opening the mouth. The muscle spasms are aggravated by chewing or by stress, which cause the patients to clench their teeth and further tighten these muscles.
Often patients are clenching/grinding their teeth during sleep especially night time without realizing this.
TMJ pain may also appear from recent dental work or by the trauma of extracting impacted wisdom teeth.
Oral anti-inflammatory over-the counter (OTC) drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) are recommended. Other measures include warm moist compresses to relax the joint areas, stress reduction, and/or eating soft foods that do not require much chewing.
If Bruxism is diagnosed by a dentist, a bite appliance (night guard) is recommended that is worn during the night to protect the teeth.
For more serious cases of joint pain, a referral to a TMJ specialist may be necessary to determine further treatment.
For the healthiest gums use these formulas for brushing, flossing, massaging gums, mouth-rinses, proxa-brushes, sulca-brushes, rubber-tip stimulators to overcome sensitive teeth, to ease the recovery of oral surgery, and for general overall cavity prevention.
A beautiful smile can give patients a lifetime of happiness!