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Jaw Joint Disorders

What is TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) 

The TMJ Temporomandibular Joint, is connected to the skull by muscles and ligaments and allow you to chew, talk, sing and swallow. When the jaw joints function properly, the bones do not actually touch because of a thin “disc” of cartilage that rides between them. The disc acts as a cushion and allows the joint to move smoothly. Each disc is held in place by ligaments and guided by muscles. You can feel the movement of the jaw joint by placing your fingers on your jaw joints. These are located just in front of your ears on both sides of your face. By opening and closing your mouth and you will be able to feel the action of the joints. The joints should move without any clicking or popping sounds when opening, closing or moving the jaw from side to side.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, more commonly known as “TMD” is a term used to describe conditions affecting the jaw joint and the muscles that control the joints. Head, neck and the facial pain often occur with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. A problem with TMJ can often masquerade as many other conditions.

What are the causes of TMD?

1. Disorders affecting sleep or sleep disordered breathing
2. Trauma (whiplash) or a blow to the face, or a fall
3. Arthritis of the jaw
4. Medications and certain medical conditions that can cause clenching and grinding
5. Dietary factors like excessive caffeine
6. GORD or acid reflux either during the day or night can cause TMD
7. Poor posture, which can affect the muscles in the neck and jaw
8. Malocclusion (misalignment of teeth) or a “bad bite” – This relates to your teeth meet and your bite. A “bad bite” prevents your upper and lower teeth from coming together in a way that provides the proper support for the jaw joint. This occurs when you have a missing tooth, misaligned teeth, or short back teeth. After a while a poor bite leads to the body compensating by involving muscles in other parts of the body such as: the neck, throat, upper back, arms and pelvis.
9. Stress and anxiety cause some people to unconsciously grind and/or clench their teeth increasing tension in the jaw and neck.
10. Genetic factors affecting the structure and function of the jaw joint and muscles.

What are the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)?

These include:
1. Pain and tenderness in the jaw joint or muscles that move the jaw
2. Limited mouth opening or locking jaw joint
3. Clicking, popping or grating sounds in jaw joints
4. Difficulty swallowing and chewing
5. Tension type headaches
6. Pain behind the eyes or in and around the ear
7. Unexplained tooth pain
8. Neck and shoulder pain or stiffness
9. Stuffiness or ringing in the ears
10. Dizziness

Treatment of TMD at the dental gallery. 

We understand that this can be a complicated area to diagnose and manage and it can be very confusing for our patients. Hence, we have put together a booklet to help to explain more about the condition and how we diagnose and manage the condition at the dental gallery. After reading through the booklet and feel you want to have this assessed and discussed, please ring to book a consult with Dr Gonsalvez. The staff will send you the detailed forms to help Dr Gonsalvez diagnose and manage your specific condition. There is no one standard treatment for every patient. Each patient is carefully diagnosed to determine the best course of care and the patient is supported through the journey towards health and well-being.