TMJ is the acronym for temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (the mandible) to the base of your skull at the temporal bone. This joint controls many jaw functions, like chewing. If the chewing muscles or the joint itself are causing you pain you may have temporamandibular disorder, or TMD. There can many causes for TMD. Some of these causes can be previous trauma to the joint, stress, continual clenching of the jaw muscles, teeth grinding, improper orientation of upper and lower teeth, previous orthodontic treatment or a spinal misalignment.
Some of the symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain when opening or closing mouth
- Limited opening
- Trouble chewing
- Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
- Headaches or ear pain
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening your mouth
Many of these symptoms can often be associated with other health problems, so only a medical professional can tell you if it is due to TMD. Prolonged teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause enamel to wear off teeth, expose the underlying sensitive dentin and lead to cracks developing in the teeth. Fracturing of the teeth or restorations as well as thermal sensitivity may develop from excessive teeth grinding.
If you suspect you may have TMD come in for a consultation. We can help diagnose your condition and provide relief for your symptoms. A night guard can be used to help prevent or lessen the effects of teeth grinding at night for less complicated TMD conditions. Lab fabricated nightguards are thinner, more comfortable to wear and are more retentive compared to the over the counter 'boil and bite' type nightguards. For more complicated TMD conditions we may refer you to the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Nevada (Dr. Brian Allman) for further evaluation. His website is www.tmjreno.com.