TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. This is the area directly in front of the ear on either side of the head where the upper jaw (mixilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet. It is one of the most frequently used joints of the body. When the muscles of the TMJ are relaxed and balanced both jaw joints open and close comfortably and we are able to talk, yawn, or chew without pain.
Let’s start by answering the following questions: What are TMJ disorders (TMJD), and what are the causes if TMJ disorders? TMJ disorders are, simply put, problems of the jaw joint. Muscles and joints are designed to work together harmoniously. If there is a problem with one or the other it can lead to pain and discomfort. One of the most common causes of TMJD is buxism, the habitual involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth. A conflict between the teeth and jaw joints leads to bruxism. By reducing or eliminating the clenching, you are effectively relaxing the jaw and minimizing the source of the pain.
Recognizing the symptoms of TMJ:
- Clicking, popping, or a grating sound when opening and closing the mouth
- Chronic headaches and/or dizziness
- Tenderness in the jaw muscles
- Ear ache and/or itchy ears
- Neck pain
- Locking of the jaw when yawning or laughing
- Spasms or cramping in the jaw area
- Unexplained nausea or vertigo
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Chipping and breaking your teeth
Using custom made occlusal splints will prevent nighttime damage associated with the grinding and clenching while, at the same time, adjusting your bite to relax your jaw. Once your bite has been corrected dental restorations can redirect and balance your bite while repairing and enhancing the look of your smile, bringing you relief from your TMJ symptoms.
At our office we use tekscan technology, a diagnostic device that measures relative biting forces. It collects and analyzes the pressure distribution. This device measures the elapsed time it takes the patient to move the jaw, left, right, forward and to separate their back teeth. The longer your back teeth don’t disengage the more muscle firing your jaw creates which leads to pain and headaches. The T-scan has the ability to take very percise measurements and assists with understanding how to correct the bite. Simply put, it helps us balance the bite by locating the points on the teeth that meet with too much pressure. Making corrections and adjustments to those teeth lessen the force and relax the muscles of the joint in the jaw which reduces or eliminates the pain experienced.
We use the BiteFX educational system to show our patients exactly why, and how, your teeth are causing you so much inflammation and persistent discomfort. BiteFX makes a complicated subject easy to understand and, most importantly, easy to select a course of action that will take you out of pain.
EVERYTHING WEARS OUT…..including your teeth!