Commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as TMJ, temporomandibular disorder or TMD, is a medical problem surrounding the jaw, jaw joint and connecting muscles. TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull temporal bone; or in other words, the joint which allows your jaw to open and close. Medical researchers don’t know exactly all the causes of TMD but have determined the symptoms begin with both the jaw muscles and the joint itself. Other possible causes are:
- Whiplash or a heavy blow to the head.
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint itself.
- If the soft tissue between the joint ball and socket becomes dislocated, pain can occur and jaw motion limited.
- Stress can often cause a person to clench their teeth or tighten those sensitive facial and jaw muscles.
- Grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep.
TMD is generally seen in more women than men with the onset beginning as early as the late teens. Pain can be swift and severe or a dull ache that last for years. Additional symptoms include:
- Inability to open the mouth very wide.
- Facial and jaw pain which can radiate down the neck to the shoulders. Or pain in and around the ear especially when chewing or speaking.
- Jaws that get locked or stuck.
- Facial swelling and/or a tired feeling in the face.
- Noises such as clicking or popping when moving the mouth or chewing.
- Difficulty chewing or feeling as though the upper and lower teeth are no longer aligned.
Proper diagnosis by your dentist is the first step in determining a treatment plan for TMD. Dr. Ellis has extensive hands-on training with the Dawson Academy to be able to deliver custom treatment to patients to treat their TMD. If you or any of your family members are experiencing some or all of the above listed symptoms, please contact Ellis Dental today to schedule an appointment.