TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This important joint connects the lower jaw with the skull and acts almost like a hinge. When it works well, the TMJ isn’t noticeable at all – almost like a well-oiled machine. When it isn’t working seamlessly, there are a host of dental and health problems that can develop.
1. The TMJ Is Complex
The TMJ is made of a joint socket positioned on the base of the temporal bone on the skulls. A joint head is attached to the rear of the lower jaw. Between these two areas is a complex fibrous area. In other words, there is a lot going on in a small space.
2. Connected to Everything
The TMJ plays a role in every major mouth movement from day to day – chewing, laughing, speaking, biting. It doesn’t matter how small or large the movement is, the TMJ does its job. Because this joint is positioned within a major network of nerves that cross over the face, head, and neck, pain can spread from the mouth to the teeth, tongue to cheeks, eyes to ears, forehead to throat.
3. The TMJ Can Cause Multiple Problems
When the temporomandibular joint is out of whack, you’ll feel it – you just might not recognize where the problem is coming from and head to your regular doctor for a checkup. Unfortunately, this can result in a misdiagnosis of what’s really going, like sinus infections, cluster headaches, or pinched nerves. Symptoms of TMJ disorders can appear as:
- Headaches, especially upon waking
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
- Difficulty or pain when chewing
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Popping jaw joint
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
4. The TMJ Comes in Pairs
There is a temporomandibular joint on both the right and left sides of a human skull and they always move in tandem, never independently. Whatever movement occurs, both joints suffer the same stress and can make your whole mouth hurt if something is out of order.
5. Tooth and Jaw Alignment Make All the Difference
There are a few effective ways to address TMJ disorders. The most common, fastest, and easiest route is to get a customized night guard which, if worn while sleeping, stops the jaws from grinding and clenching together. Besides physical complications of the TMJ, a teeth-grinding problem can also lead to damaged, worn, or broken teeth, which means you will need restorative dentistry along with TMJ therapy.
Some patients need misalignment corrected and opt for a course of Invisalign treatment. The clear aligners also double as a night guard, helping to protect your teeth from any bruxism – grinding and clenching – that occurs while you sleep.
Get Help for Jaw Joint Problems in Arlington, TX
The temporomandibular joints are important parts of your mouth and oral health. If you see your dentist every six months for regular teeth cleanings and checkups, you will have this joint examined to ensure that everything is working properly.
If you’re ready to see an Arlington dentist and any concerns you have about your oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Alana Macalik in Arlington, TX.