TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJ connects the mandible, or lower jaw, with the temporal bone of the skull. This unique joint is the most complex one in the body. The health and stability of the TMJ is essential to the overall integrity and function of the chewing system. Problems with the TMJ may be caused by a wide variety of factors, including misalignment of the teeth and jaw, dental work, missing teeth, trauma, and muscle stress, such as clenching and grinding. TMJ disorders (TMD) occur when the skull and jawbones, cartilage disks, muscles, nerves, and teeth all fail to work in harmony.
Symptoms of TMD include:
- clenching or grinding of teeth
- headaches, neck pain, or migraines
- uneven or bad bite
- worn or broken teeth
- muscle or jaw pain
- jaw joint noises (popping or clicking)
- difficulty with chewing and eating
- trouble/soreness with opening and closing the mouth
There is no “one size fits all” solution for TMD, and your treatment is customized based on in-depth analysis and accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. Some of the common treatments include removable splint therapy, orthodontics, restoring worn teeth and old dental work, or replacing missing teeth in order to balance the chewing system to function normally. Treatment for TMD can involve adjunctive providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, MDs, and naturopathic doctors.
As bioesthetic dentists, we perform x-ray examinations of the jaw joints, teeth, and facial bones; we also use special instruments to check jaw alignment. When issues are discovered, we may create a temporary splint called a maxillary anterior guided orthotic (MAGO), which is worn for 2 to 4 months to correct jaw position. We maintain jaw position by reshaping the biting surfaces of teeth and applying crowns, veneers, bonding, or braces as necessary.