Individualized TMD/TMJ therapy with Tribury Dental
The temporomandibular jaw joints or TMJs are the joints that connect your lower jaw bone to your skull. The TMJs are among the most complex joints in the body. These joints, along with several muscles, allow the lower jaw to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back. When the lower jaw and the joints are properly aligned, smooth muscle actions, such as chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing, can take place.
TMD or TMJ are the abbreviated names for temporomandibular joint disease. TMD is any problem that prevents the complex system of head and neck muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony. It is characterized by three types of conditions. You can have one or more of these conditions at the same time.
- Myofacial pain – this is discomfort or pain in the connective tissue covering the muscles (fascia) and muscles that control jaws, neck and shoulders. This is the most common form of TMD.
- Internal derangement of the TMJ disc – this is the dislocation jaw or displaced joint disc. The joint disc is the cushion of cartilage between the head of the jaw bone and the skull.
- Degenerative joint disease – this is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of the jaw joint.
You may suffer from TMD if you experience frequent jaw pain or facial pain. TMJ disorders may also cause:
- Jaw discomfort
- Earaches with no infection
- Ringing of the ears
- Pain spreading behind the eyes, face, shoulder and neck.
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Broken teeth
- Teeth needing root canals without cavities or gum disease present
- Autoimmune disease – systemic disease that “attacks” the temporomandibular joints. It caused breakdown of the joint structures. This is rare and will be associated with other autoimmune issues. These include systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis.
- Craniofacial underdevelopment – in the western world, there has been a significant reduction in the size of our heads and necks. This reduction in size has caused us to have smaller nasal passages, windpipes and space for teeth. Put this all together and it causes us to place excessive pressure on our jaw joints. This pressure leads to joint breakdown (osteoarthritis), muscle fatigue and spasms and damage to the TMJ disc.
- Trauma – any trauma to the head and neck area can lead to TMD in the future. These include car accidents, sports injuries or direct trauma to the head/neck.
**Please note that trauma cannot be proven to be the cause of TMD unless the joints were directly damaged in the injury. Since TMD is a multifactorial disease (influenced by teeth, airways, nasal passages and neck structures), you may have predisposing factors that were present before the injury. These issues make it very difficult to determine if the trauma was the root cause of the disease.
Proper treatment of TMD requires a multi-step approach. The first step will be to stop pain and stabilize the jaw joints. This is done with the use of a dental orthotic. The orthotic is used to balance the chewing system. Balancing reduces pressure placed on the joint and allows the head and neck muscles to relax. Most of the time, we can resolve pain, trismus and muscle tenderness. Unfortunately, joint noise may never resolve.
With the chewing system balanced, we are then able to determine the root cause of TMD. It could be small upper or lower jaws, small windpipe, facial asymmetry, vaulted palate, trauma, systemic disease or dental interference. Depending on the root cause, we have different further treatment options available to correct/manage the problem for the long term.