“Temporomandibular joint” or TMJ is actually the hinge joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull’s temporal bone.
The temporal bone is located in front of each ear. The ligaments, muscles and joints on each side of your jaw are attached to the jaw joint. They let you open and close your mouth and allow you to chew, swallow and talk.
It works wonderfully, when it works, but it can be thrown off by a number of problems.
Some disorders of the TMJ are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, grinding teeth, dislocation, misalignment of jaw or teeth, or injury. Stress can cause muscles of the jaw or face to tighten or teeth to clench.
Your face, jaw joint, neck, shoulders, around the ear, or in the ear may be tender or sore when you chew or speak, or when opening your mouth wide.
You may not be able to open your mouth as widely as you could before. Your jaw may get stuck either open or closed.
You may have clicking, grating or popping sounds which may or may not be painful when moving your jaws.
Chewing may be painful or may feel “off”. You may have swelling on one side of the face or the other, or both sides.
Pain from temporomandibular disorders can be temporary for some people or it may last for years. Women are more likely to get TMD than men are. It is most likely to hit between age 20 and 40.
Dr. Johnson can perform an examination in the case of TMD and help you solve your dental problems that cause these aches and pains. Use of a bite plate or a night guard, custom designed by the dentist may lessen teeth grinding and clenching.
If you are suffering from TMD:
It can be helpful to eat softer foods. Don’t bite your nails or chew gum. Pain may be eased by using heat packs. Some people find relief through meditation, biofeedback or other types of relaxation techniques to reduce jaw tension. Also recommended, strengthening your jaw muscles through exercise.
For an appointment contact Newton Wellesley Dental Partners.