TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, or the jaw joint.
You have two TMJs, one in front of each ear, connecting the lower jaw bone (the mandible) to the skull.
The joints allow movement up and down, side to side, forward and back-all the mobility necessary for biting, chewing and swallowing food, for speaking and for making facial expressions.
How do I know that my TMJ dysfunctions?
Pain is the most common symptom. TMJ pain is often described as a dull aching pain in the jaw joint and nearby areas, including the ear, which comes and goes. Some people, however, report no pain, but still have problems using their jaws.
Other symptoms can include:
Being unable to open the mouth comfortably
Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
Locking of the jaw when attempting to open the mouth
A bite that feels uncomfortable or "off"
Neck, shoulder and back pain
Swelling on the side of the face
Where does the pain come from?
The cause of pain may be located to the muscles, the joints or even the teeth. The prosthodontist will diagnose the true source of the pain. In most of the cases this can be done by describing the symptoms to him/her and a thorough exam of the face and the jaws.
Some times x-rays may help to diagnose the exact nature of the problem. Most detailed tests may be needed in case we suspect a most complex case or if the pain resists treatment.
Is there a treatment for my disorder?
The prosthodontist is a doctor qualified to resolve your problem.
The treatment is reversible and aims to the relief of the pain. Sometimes medication may be required.
Self-care practices, for example, eating soft foods, applying ice or moist heat, and avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing) are useful in easing symptoms.
Since in many cases the source of the problem is the interference between the teeth the doctor will fabricate a device that fits perfectly on your teeth and provides the ideal teeth relationship. The device also relaxes the muscles and resolves the muscle pain.
In rare occasions advanced treatment will be needed.