What is TMJ Disorder?
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and is located near the ear, connecting the lower jaw to the upper jaw. It sits against the skull and isn’t like most other joints in the body as it has a rounded protrusion and a structure similar to a disc made of cartilage known as the articular disc. The primary function of the TMJ is to ensure that the jaw moves up and down with the help of other ligaments in the mouth and jaw. In this article, Greeley Dental Care answers one of the most common questions, “what is TMJ disorder?”
How does TMJ dysfunction work?
To open the mouth, the joint works in two ways:
- It works similar to a door hinge to open and close the mouth. The joint expands and retracts just as a hinge would when the mouth needs to be opened and closed.
- It also has a sliding motion which mostly impacts the lower jaw, allowing it to move forward and down. This motion allows you to move your mouth as you please from side to side, backward and forward while you eat, speak, or yawn.
If not properly taken care of or due to extra exertion, you can injure the joint causing it to swell, become sore, or fracture. Either of which results in pain. You’re likely to experience jaw pain, neck pain, and head pain. One of the most painful problems occurs when the articular disc is fractured, even though it is rare the fracture is very painful.
Like other joints, you can get arthritis in the TMJ, another rare occurrence. Treating arthritis in the joint is more complicated due to where it is located, and usually, anti-inflammatory drugs by themselves don’t do the trick. Using ice to treat common pain of the joint is usually recommended.
Can you develop TMJ disorder from clenching or grinding your teeth?
Since the TMJ works with the jaws, the teeth also have an impact on it. When individuals grind their teeth, it puts additional pressure on the joints (especially if the individual has misaligned teeth). As the teeth grind against each other, there is more force applied on the joints which can cause stress on them.
That is why it is important to see a Greeley CO dentist if you face issues related to teeth grinding. Most individuals grind their teeth without knowing. Most of the time, it’s due to the stress present in their lives. Seeing a dentist can help you identify the problem, and a solution can be worked out accordingly.
Same is the case with clenching, which individuals tend to do at night as they sleep. The best solution for this is wearing a mouth guard as you sleep.
When is surgery required for TMJ disorder?
Dr. Taher Dhoon, a dentist in Greeley, CO, says that there are rare TMJ disorder cases where the TMJ is so badly damaged that it cannot be fixed with medication, icing, and jaw exercises. Surgery is required for such cases, and your dentist can recommend an oral surgeon that can help you out. Usually, an x-ray and images of your jaw are taken to determine how badly damaged they are and determine what the next step would be to fix it.
How to maintain your TMJ?
Like with your oral health, it is important that you have your jaw and its joints assessed by your dentist. In your regular checkups, Dr. Taher Dhoon will ensure that there is no problem with your jaw or the TMJ. So be sure to ask your dentist whether or not your TMJ is healthy in your next visit. This way you are aware of any precautionary steps you may need in order to have optimal oral health.