TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDERS
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the most unique joint in the body. It moves in three dimensional planes compared to your elbow, knee and hip, which move in two dimensional planes. It connects your lower jaw to your skull. Due to the extensive usage of this joint in speaking and chewing, it is more susceptible to problems.
Some people suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD) that is associated with symptoms such as painful clicking or popping sounds when the jaw opens or closes, locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth, pain of the jaw area and or ringing in the ears. If you feel that you might have TMD, please see a TMJ specialist to receive an exam.
However, not all symptoms are threatening in nature and occur fairly frequently in the population, such as clicking and popping without pain. In many cases, TMJ discomfort is muscular in origin and requires massaging of the muscle, cold compress when in pain and warm compress the day after. Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen can help if it becomes unbearable. If you or your child grind and or clench your teeth at night, our orthodontist can help by providing a night guard to relieve muscular tension off the joint. You can also perform exercises that help relax the surrounding muscles such as maintaining closed lips while keeping the teeth apart. Eating a softer diet, avoiding gum chewing and extreme jaw movements and chewing food evenly on both sides of your mouth also are good practices in helping TMJ discomfort. Braces are not associated with TMD, and TMJ discomfort usually is cyclic and wanes after a period of time.