The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or the jaw joint, is a unique part of the body. Breakdown or stress in the joint can cause a number of problems, collectively called TMD. Temporomandibular joint disorders are a variety of problems related to the complex jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Joint disorders are often accompanied by discomfort or pain in the head and neck, and discomfort or sounds in the joint. Early detection and treatment are essential in allaying more serious conditions. Symptoms of TMD can include: sensitive teeth, loose teeth, chipped or worn teeth, noises in the joint (clicking, crackling, popping), difficulty opening or closing, locking open, muscle pain and fatigue, headaches and migraines, tinnitus, postural vertigo.
Natural position is lips together and teeth apart. Teeth touch on average around 10 minutes a day, so if your teeth are together more than that it may be wearing out the chewing system. You can practice your rest position by saying “om” or making a small puff of air, to keep the teeth apart.
Muscle pain or tenderness can be an indication of an imbalance in the chewing system. Where your teeth fit together is not necessarily a relaxed or comfortable position for the joint or the muscles. This can contribute to muscle pain, limited range of motion, limited opening, discomfort.
Treatment options range from maintenance and prevention to more complex coordination of the bite and the jaw joint. In cases of severe breakdown of the teeth and dysfunction of the jaws, special consideration is given to the balance of the jaws, muscles, and teeth. The major cause of inordinate wear, broken teeth, and tension headaches associated with clenching and grinding teeth is jaws out of alignment with the teeth. To learn more about what might be possible to stabilize and protect your chewing system, contact us today for an evaluation.