It's estimated that tens of millions of men, women, and children suffer from TMJ Disorders. Headaches, facial pain and clicking and popping are the most common complaints from those afflicted with a TMJ dysfunction.
TMJ is an abbreviation for the Temporomandibular Joint, the hinge joint more commonly known as the jaw. This joint, located slightly in front of each ear, is composed of the temporal bone, the mandible, and the disc. This sliding joint, capable of great flexibility, allows for the jaw to be moved by the facial muscles in a wide range of directions.
Unfortunately, your TMJ condition may worsen with time if you do not seek proper treatment. Most patients are not aware that there are specially trained dentists to treat the problem.
The function of the TMJ allows us to talk, chew, and swallow as needed. Problems occur when the ligaments between the two bones of the TMJ are damaged, causing a dislocation of the disc in between. This dislocation can cause clicking, uneven movement of the lower jaw, and/or pain of the TMJ. The right and left TMJ's work dependently on each other. Therefore, if only one joint is injured, overtime, that will strain or injure the other joint.
TMJ problems most often develop from some type of injury and are not hereditary. These TMJ related problems may occur at a very young age from a fall, motor vehicle accident, or direct strike to the chin from sports or other physical activity. Milder type traumas to the TMJ include overextension of the mandible, poor head posture, and chewing habits. Bad sleeping habits, poor posture and incorrect lifting and carrying can also cause a misalignment of the atlas vertebrate (the top cervical bone in the neck) and contribute to symptoms of a TMJ disorder.
Once an appropriate and specific TMJ diagnosis has been established, specific treatment will be offered.
The most common non-surgical therapies include: