Have chronic pain in your jaw?  It could be TMD/TMJ disorder.

TMJ or TMD is a common term for a collection of symptoms and causes.

What is TMJ / TMD Thearapy And Why Could You Need It?

TMJ is the Temporomandibular Joint which anatomically is a synovial gliding joint with a movable socket. It is the connection of the mandible (lower jaw) to the cranial base.

The extent of the joints movement in translation makes it unique unlike any other joint in our body. To complicate matters it is two joints, one left and one right joined through the body of the lower jaw.

It articulates the lower jaw to the cranial base through these two joints and the upper and lower teeth. It is the fit of the teeth that will ultimately determine the position of the TM Joints. This is why Dentistry plays a very important role in diagnosing and treating problems related to the TMJ.

Stress definitely can play a roll. Generally speaking, people who experience stress or even just a traumatic event can unconsciously try to alleviate the stress by grinding the teeth at night (referred to as bruxism). This habit causes abnormal wear on the teeth surfaces and also leads to problems with the bite.

Any habitual clenching of the teeth and undo stress on the jaw can lead to an exacerbation of the Temporomandibular Joint and can over time definitely contribute the symptoms.

In addition to dental treatment consider modifying the contributing factors to your stress so that the problems don’t persist.

Signs and Symptoms of TMD/TMJ

If you have any of these symptoms you may suffer from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.  Treatments vary depending on the cause which is often multi-factorial.

Dr Parlett has an extensive background in diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. If you feel some of these symptoms apply to you and it is interfering with your day to day activity you should seek professional advice.

Clicking Sounds

Some people with TMD hear a clicking, popping or grating sound coming from the TMJ when opening or closing the mouth. This is usually caused by a shifting of the disk inside the joint. Someone standing next to you might even be able to hear it. Clicking by itself is actually not a significant symptom because one third of all people have jaw joints that click, studies show. However, if the clicking is accompanied by pain or limited jaw function — the jaw getting “stuck” in an open or closed position, for example — this would indicate TMD.

Muscle Pain

This can be felt in the cheeks (masseter muscles) and temples (temporalis muscles), where the two big pairs of jaw-closing muscles are located. If you feel soreness and stiffness upon waking up in the morning, it’s often related to habits such as clenching and/or grinding the teeth at night. If you have this type of nocturnal habit, a custom-made nightguard should be very helpful in decreasing the force applied to your teeth, which will in turn allow your muscles to relax and relieve pressure on your jaw joints. Other self-care remedies are discussed below (please see Relieving the Pain).

Jaw Pain

Pain that’s actually coming from one or both jaw joints technically would be described as arthritis (“arth” – joint; “itis” – inflammation) of the TMJ. Radiographs (x-ray pictures) show that some people have arthritic-looking TMJs but no symptoms of pain or dysfunction; others have significant symptoms of pain and dysfunction but their joints look normal on radiographs. There is no cure for arthritis anywhere in the body, but medication can sometimes help relieve arthritic symptoms.