The TMJ is the joint that allows your jaw to open and close. When the jaw opens, there is a hinge movement to drop the jaw, but also a sliding movement to bring it slightly forwards. Muscles attached between the jaw and the skull contract and relax to move the jaw.
Discomfort in the jaw is a common problem and there are many possible causes. Your dentist will discuss your symptoms in detail with you together with your treatment options. The most common symptoms experienced with TMJ dysfunction include pain and clicking in the jaw, earache, discomfort in the face, headaches and difficulty with biting and chewing. The causes of these symptoms may be divided into two broad groups: problems with the function of the muscles, and problems within the joint.
Sometimes the muscles working the jaw become overactive, a condition called parafunction. It is not known exactly why this occurs, but there are many effective treatments available. Other problems with the TMJ include increased sensitivity to pain, inflammation, arthritis and injury.
The treatment your dentist recommends will depend on your symptoms and what is found when your teeth and jaw are examined. Rest, painkillers, exercises, orthodontics or a splint to prevent you grinding your teeth at night are all common treatments.
If you have any concerns, please arrange an appointment with your dentist today.