Do you ever experience a clicking or popping sound when opening or closing your mouth? Have you been suffering from headaches or migraines and no one seems to be able to help you? Have you been taking pain medicine for years and would like to get off of it? Do you feel any clogging or congestion in one or both of your ears? These are just a few of many symptoms that might be associated with TMD, or Temporomandibular Dysfunction, a common condition affecting the jaw joint or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).
TMJ dysfunction, often referred to as TMD, is a disharmony between the way the jaw joint works in an unstrained position and the way the teeth and bite work during those movements. Possible causes of this disharmony include tooth loss, accidents (like whiplash), mal-positioned and/or underdeveloped cranial or jawbones, and perhaps habits like clenching or teeth grinding. Many people go through life suffering from headaches and a variety of facial and neck pains without knowing the ultimate cause, which in many cases is TMJ disorder.
TMJ or The Temporomandibular Joint
They are the two joints which connect the lower jaw to the temporal bone at the side of the head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of the head.
Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. When the TMJ is not functioning normally and it is not within its physiological limits, it creates a condition called TMD.
TMD or Temporomandibular Dysfunction, is a group of conditions resulting from not having a normal function or 'comfortable' positioning of the TMJ, and will present as a cycle of pain, muscle spasms and jaw problems.
When teeth are missing, out of alignment, crowded or misshaped, chewing and biting can not be achieved in a balanced way, so the TMJ and the muscles of chewing try to compensate for this unbalanced movement which results in symptoms that will confirm the presence of TMD.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is not just a disorder, but a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and the muscles that control chewing.
TMD falls into three main categories:
1. Myofascial pain, the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw functions and the neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Internal derangement of the joint meaning a dislocated or displaced disc or injury to the condyle (the rounded part at the end of the jaw bone).
3. Degenerative joint disease such as Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis in the jaw joint.
Simple cases of TMJ can be treated with anti inflammatory medications and hot/moist compress.
Treatment for more complex cases includes the fabrication of an orthotic. The orthotic is designed to reposition the jaw to the correct neuromuscular position.
Once this position has been established, definitive treatment can include orthodontics or reconstruction of the bite.
There are many causes for TMD such as:
1. Unbalanced occlusion or 'Bad Bite'
2. Stress (emotional or work/school related)
3. Injury or trauma (this could have been an injury as obvious as a blow to the jaw with a fist or something as subtle as a whiplash injury with direct trauma to the head or jaw.)
4. Teeth grinding or Bruxism
A 'Bad Bite' could be caused by any of the following:
1. Missing teeth
2. Crowded or 'crooked' teeth
3. Worn down teeth
4. Old crowns and bridges
5. Unbalanced dentures
When teeth are missing, or out of alignment, it causes the jaw to shift positions and the muscles to work harder to chew, swallow, bite, etc. and eventually will cause: muscle spasms, tension and pain.
Muscle tension and misplaced TMJ could cause the TMJ disc to be pulled out of place which will result in pain, clicking and popping in the TMJ.
If the disc is displaced for a long time, the bones will start rubbing against each other and some damage will happen to the bone, this is called Osteoarthritis.
If there is inflammation in other joints or bones of the body, it is called Osteoarthritis (Arthritis) which may involve the jaw bone and the TMJ. Some damage to the bone may be evident on the x-rays.
To help diagnose a TMJ disorder, you want to look for the following symptoms that are generally related to TMD.
- Jaw Pain
- Jaw Clicking
- Limited Mouth Opening
- Jaw Locking
- Migraines / Head Aches
- Face Pain
- Eye Pain
- Ear Pain
- Neck Pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call our office at (714) 771-3111 and we'll be happy to discuss them further and talk possible treatments that are available and would work best for you.
Posture and your bite are closely related. One affects the other involving muscles in the neck, back, pelvis, and legs.
Poor posture can place unnecessary wear and tear on your joints and cause your muscles to suffer. Your teeth are what determine how your bite goes together. Your bite then determines the position of your jaw, and in turn, the position of your head on your spine.
The teeth are part of your skeletal system and if/when improperly aligns, there is often a compensating effect on the rest of your body. The human body will adjust itself, involving the muscles in the neck, back, and even those of the pelvis, legs, and feet. Most postural problems can be improved at any age, yet the longer the problem exists, the more difficult it will be to correct.
Symptoms of a poorly postured bite include:
- Numbing or tingling sensation in the hand
- Pain in the jaw, head, neck, shoulders, back
- Difficulty clearing the ears
- One shoulder being higher than the other
- Breast bone muscles feel tender to the touch- Pant legs must be hemmed to different lengths
- Heels wear unevenly
Bite splints (plates) are effective in relieving TMD symptoms.
A bite splint provides an acrylic platform to bite against. Some bite plates move the mandible to a new position.
Generally, splints are worn part-time and for most people night time seems to be the best time to wear them.
The NTI-TSS System is a type of mouth guard that is placed on the patient's upper teeth. This lets the lower jaw rest in its proper place and causes the teeth to subside from being able to clench together.
If you experience chronic headaches, please ask your doctor because the NTI-TSS System could work for you.
Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS): This system delivers a precise, regulated, bilateral rhythmic stimulus to both head and facial muscles.
This controlled bilateral stimulation promotes muscle relaxation for relief of symptoms associated with muscle spasms common to some types of TMJ dysfunction.
When pain results from a muscle spasm, TENS offers a safe, drug-free method of treatment relieving many head and neck discomforts through muscle relaxation.