The temporo-mandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, is a unique joint with many functions. It connects the upper jaw (Maxilla) to the lower jaw (Mandible) and facilitates forwards and backward, up and down, and sideways movements of the lower jaw. These movements help us speak, bite, chew, smile and even swallow normally – without the joint, our mouth would not be able to perform any of these functions. It is for this reason that the optimal health and functionality of the joint are absolutely critical.
Accidents, direct blows to the joint, stress-induced teeth clenching, Bruxism (night time teeth grinding), and certain types of mal-occlusions can adversely affect the TMJ. The tissues around the joint become inflamed and patients may experience symptoms like aching pain, inability to fully open the mouth, and even clicking sounds near the ear. To treat a TMJ related disorder, our team at Theresa Frank DDS first attempts to diagnose its root cause. For instance, if the TMJ inflammation is stemming from malocclusion or nocturnal teeth grinding, patients are given orthodontic appliances to correct the bite. For anger or stress related clenching, the patients must be willing to go to therapy because in such cases dental intervention alone does not relieve all the symptoms. Give us a call today to learn more about the TMJ and how you can keep it healthy!