In this month’s Hartwell Dentistry Blog, we will start the discussion on basic facts and what signs or symptoms to look out for.

  • Do you experience jaw issues such as pain, clicking, limited opening or locking?
  • Do you suffer from headaches or jaw aches?
  • Is it uncomfortable for you to eat hard or chewy foods or keep your mouth open when at the dentist?
  • Are your teeth becoming shorter, thinner or worn?
  • Do you feel you have more than one bite and squeeze to make them fit together?
  • Are you aware of clenching your teeth during the day, been told you grind at night, wake up with awareness of your teeth or experience problems sleeping?

If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms you are likely to be suffering from an underlying bite and/or jaw issue.

If left untreated this can develop into pain and difficulty when talking and eating, accelerated wear and breakdown of your teeth and worsening of jaw discomfort and headaches.

The anatomical term for our jaw joint is the Temporomandibular joint or TMJ for short.

The clinical term for a condition of the TMJ is commonly referred to as Temporomandibular Dysfunction or TMD for short

Quick facts on TMJ AND TMD

  • The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is situated where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet.
  • TMD are a group of complex problems with numerous possible causes.
  • Headache, toothache, pain on chewing, being unable to chew hard foods, not finding a true bite, ear pain and dizziness are some of the symptoms of TMJ disorders
  • Depending on what the cause of TMD is, treatment options are varied.

What and where is the temporomandibular joint?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the area directly in front of the ear on either side of the head where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet. There are moving parts inside the joint that allow the upper jaw to close on the lower jaw. This joint is a typical sliding “ball and socket” joint that has a disc sandwiched between it. The TMJ is used throughout the day to move the jaw, especially in biting and chewing, talking, laughing and yawning. It is one of the most complex and frequently used joints of the body.

Muscles, joint disc, ligaments, tendons, and bones at one end and teeth at the other end support the temporomandibular joint complex.  Each component contributes to the smooth operation of the TMJ.

When the muscles are relaxed and the teeth are balanced, both jaw joints open and close comfortably, we are able to talk, chew, or yawn without pain.

Next time we will discuss what happens when the jaw does not work in harmony or when excessive forces are involved.

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