There is a flexible joint on either side of your face, known as the Temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ. It connects the temporal bones to the mandible. In other words, it’s the place where the jaw attaches to the rest of your skull. This connection acts as a central point for the muscles and tendons that move the jaw around.
The TMJ does a lot of work, between speaking, eating, and general daily activity. It has to move in many different directions. It is also exposed on the side of the face, with very little to protect it. This leaves the TMJ susceptible to both injury and stress.
Injuries and damage to the TMJ are grouped under temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs.
What is a TMD?
Some symptoms of TMDS may include the following:
- Pain/tenderness in face, jaw, neck, or shoulders
- Pain around the ear when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth wide
- Inability to open the mouth fully
- Lockjaw, either while open or closed
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving the jaw
- Tired or stiff facial muscles
- Trouble chewing, especially if the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly
What Causes TMD?
Any number of things can stress this joint. Some of the most common are:
- Bruxism, or heavy teeth grinding/jaw clenching
- Injuries sustained in car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Overstretching the joint
- Tooth misalignment
Treatment for TMD
If any of these symptoms or causes describe your condition, you may be wondering what you can do about it. There’s good news! Most TMDs are entirely treatable. In fact, many of them heal simply through discovering the source of the joint stress and relieving it.
One of the methods commonly used in this process is the oral appliance. This device looks very much like a mouthguard and is worn during sleep. While wearing an oral appliance, the teeth are not clenched together so tightly. They cannot grind together, either.
An oral appliance will also keep your teeth aligned as they should be. By allowing you to sleep with less stress placed on the TMJ, your joints will be able to heal.
Not only that, but your teeth will be healthier. Without grinding and clenching, the enamel of your teeth will also be under much less stress, which lessens the chance of cracking or severe erosion.
If you or someone you know suffers from the symptoms of a TMD, call us today. We are happy to answer any of your questions, and help you get the healing you deserve.