The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint of the jaw. There are two TMJs, one on each side of the jaw, and they work in unison to open and close your mouth, allowing you to chew and talk. TMJ Disorder (or TMD) is a chronic degenerative condition that can take years to develop and have serious consequences to your health and quality of life. When your jaw is misaligned, it can cause other symptoms (some of which you might not expect) such as:
Signs and symptoms you are suffering from TMJ/TMD
- Headaches, neck, and/or shoulder pain
- Clicking and/or popping sounds in the jaw
- Locked jaw
- Jaw pain
- Teeth grinding
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Tingling fingers
- Ringing in the ear
How do I know if I have a bite issue?
When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Gray and his team will assess your teeth and mouth for any visible signs of wear. If there is an issue, we will use a few different methods to get to the root of the problem and develop a treatment plan. Some of the methods we use to determine if you have a bite issue include:
- Complete oral exam
- Panoramic X-rays
- Model of your mouth using our 3D scanner
- High-definition photos
What if I have a TMJ problem? What are the next steps?
Depending on your situation, there are generally 2 ways to correct TMJ disorder:
- One solution is to use braces and possibly other orthodontic appliances to correct the position and development of the jaws. By establishing a harmonious bite, this will then calm the TMJ and the supporting muscles down.
- The second option is to establish a physiologic bite position using an appliance for 2-3 weeks, then use crowns to restore your mouth to this healthy position.
Why it’s important to treat TMD
Most TMJ problems are the result of epigenetics. This is where the environment does not allow the full expression of the genes. (It is important to note that TMJ disorder can be treated at any age). Environmental factors include diet, breastfeeding, mouth breathing, among other things. TMJ problems can also be the result of a traumatic injury. Because the TMJ is a joint, it will continue to wear down (like a knee joint), and symptoms will likely develop as you age.
When is the best time to treat TMD?
It is always a good idea to treat early. The best time is in childhood in order to prevent future problems. In general, if you have a TMJ problem (whether you have symptoms or not), we always recommend treating as early as possible — because you will be working with healthier (less compromised) structures — rather than waiting for things to degenerate further.
If you have any follow-up questions or you want to come in for an assessment, please contact our Newmarket dental office at (289) 272-8142