Your TMJ and Understanding TMD
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex and frequently used joints in the body. The TMJ allows your bottom jaw to move, so every time you talk, chew or swallow you are using the TMJs on either side of your head.
The TMJ affects many aspects of your body, particularly the musculoskeletal system. Some symptoms of TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, are:
- Jaw pain / pain in the TMJ
- Clicking of the TMJ
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Pain or problems when chewing
- Headaches, ear or eye aches
- Sore neck muscles / tight shoulder muscles
- Tooth wear
- Mobility of your teeth
Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, may be caused by:
- A bad bite caused by missing or poorly aligned teeth
- Trauma to the TMJ
- Clenching of the teeth
- Teeth grinding
- Emotional stress causing the two conditions above
At our Calgary clinic we can offer treatment to restore natural movement of your TMJ and relieve your TMJ discomfort caused by TMD.
- A dental crown can be placed to restore the balance of your bite
- Spaces in your teeth can be corrected with dental bridges or dental implant crowns
- A referral can be made to an orthodontist to move your teeth with braces
- Your bite can be adjusted (equilibriation)
- A splint or night guard (acrylic mouthpiece) can be used to reduce clenching and grinding
- A referral can be made to a physiotherapist, massage therapist or other health care practitioners
- In severe cases, patients will be referred out to a specialist for this work
Common Questions about TMD and your TMJ
How can I locate my TMJ?
You can feel your TMJ by placing your finger on the boney structure in front of your ear. Press firmly as you open and close your mouth. The moving parts you feel are the TMJ.
What bones and muscles comprise the TMJ?
The TMJ is where the temporal bone of the skull connects with the mandible (lower jaw bone) and these two bones are cushioned by a thin cartilage disc. Whenever you have clicking or other sounds in the TMJ there is either a problem with the structure or function of this disc.
How do I know if I have a bad bite?
We consider a bite to be healthy when your teeth meet evenly, are aligned without crowding and do not wear upon each other. This requires the ball of the jaw joint to be properly positioned in the socket at the side of the skull (the TMJ) to allow the chewing muscles to work efficiently.
If the teeth or the TMJ are not aligned properly, the muscles have to work harder to adapt to inefficient function. Of course this also affects your chewing and therefore your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
A healthy bite is about more than just teeth – it is essential to good overall health as the TMJ can affect various aspects of the musculoskeletal system from your mouth, neck, shoulders through your spine, and all the way down to your hips, knees and ankles. Learn more about integration in dentistry.
Is TMD a common condition?
Millions of people suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), many of which don’t realize that the TMJ is causing or contributing to their discomfort. With the proper treatment at our Calgary clinic we can restore harmony to your TMJ.