TMJ Treatment

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Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurrent headaches. In some cases this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

Your temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. As you may imagine, these joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let us know! We can help advise you as to whether they indicate the presence of TMD, and what sort of treatment is appropriate for you.

If you don’t have any of these symptoms, let’s keep it that way! There are some simple things you can do at home or work to prevent TMD from occurring in your jaw joints:

  • Relax your face – remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder – either use a headset or hold the receiver to your ear
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture – keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared

Normal TMJ Function

Normal TMJ Function

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TMJ – Anterior Displacement

tmjThe Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint in front of the ears that attaches the lower jaw to the skull. It is made up of a fossa (a socket) at the base of the skull and a condyle at the top of the lower jaw. Within the joint is a thin disc of tissue (seen in blue in this diagram). The disc acts as a cushion and provides the opportunity for the condyle of the lower jaw to move in multiple directions within the fossa. In a normal TMJ, the disc is centered over the joint, is healthy and allows full movement of the lower jaw. The joint however, can degenerate in several ways causing pain and limited movement.

tmjWhen the joints become misaligned (from trauma, poor bite or disease), the disc can become displaced in front of the joint. Without the cushioning effect of the disc, the condyle rubs on soft tissue which is trapped between the condyle and the fossa, often
resulting in pain. As the mouth opens and the condyle moves forward, the disc may click back into place. In severe cases, the disc does not click back into place, but remains trapped in front of the jaw joint, causing limited opening. Treatments may include bite splints, medications, physiotherapy and surgery. Dental treatment may also be recommended for bite correction.

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TMJ-Arthritic Joint

arthritic jointThe Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint in front of the ears that attaches the lower jaw to the skull. It is made up of a fossa (a socket) at the base of the skull and a condyle at the top of the lower jaw. Within the joint is a thin disc of tissue (seen in blue in this diagram). The disc acts as a cushion and provides the opportunity for the condyle of the lower jaw to move in multiple directions within the fossa. In a normal TMJ, the disc is centered over the joint, is healthy and allows full movement of the lower jaw. The joint however, can degenerate in several ways causing pain and limited movement.

arthritic jointArthritis in the joint can cause degeneration. The most common types are Rheumatoid and Degenerative. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition and affects most joints in the body. Degenerative arthritis is a result of trauma or bite problems. Arthritis can cause closing of the joint space, erosion of the bony surfaces of the joint, bone spurs and eventual fusing of the joint. Treatments may include bite splints, medications, physiotherapy and surgery. dental treatment may also be recommended for bite correction.

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TMJ – Degenerative Disc

degenerative discThe Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint in front of the ears that attaches the lower jaw to the skull. It is made up of a fossa (a socket) at the base of the skull and a condyle at the top of the lower jaw. Within the joint is a thin disc of tissue (seen in blue in this diagram). The disc acts as a cushion and provides the opportunity for the condyle of the lower jaw to move in multiple directions within the fossa. In a normal TMJ, the disc is centered over the joint, is healthy and allows full movement of the lower jaw. The joint however, can degenerate in several ways causing pain and limited
movement.

degenerative discThe disc can be perforated or torn due to trauma, or can degenerate through wear and tear. Once the disc is damaged, the joint no longer functions smoothly. Over time, the disc may degenerate further, causing pain and altered movement of the jaw joint.

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Nightguard

nightguards

A Nightguard is an appliance fabricated from acrylic to cover the biting surfaces of the teeth. Although nightguards can be soft or hard, and cover either the upper or lower teeth, their function is to prevent the biting surfaces of the teeth from coming into contact and thereby preventing grinding or breaking of dental restorations and teeth. Nightguards are prescribed to prevent further destruction of teeth for people who are grinding their teeth and are also used in many cases after a large number of crowns or other restorations
have been placed on the teeth to prevent the destruction of the newly fabricated restorations. This picture shows a hard acrylic nightguard covering the biting surfaces of the upper teeth. Although a nightguard is usually worn during sleeping hours, your dentist may also prescribe it to be worn during the day, depending on your specific situation.

Night Guard

Night Guard

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