What is the TM Joint?
The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull (temporal bone) under your ear.
What can problems in TMJ cause?
Problems in this area can cause head and neck pain, a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open, problems biting, and popping sounds when you bite.
Is TMJ pain an emergency?
If you cant open your mouth (closed lock) or close your mouth (open lock). You should call us on 02 9264 9120 immediately. The more you wait the harder it is to place the jaw back into place.
What are the causes of TMJ pain?
Sleep plays a very big role in TMJ pain and we make sure we evaluate you sleeping problems as part of the cause of TMJ pain.
Other common causes of TMJ pain are
- Trauma: Trauma is divided to microtrauma and macrotrauma.
a) Microtrauma is internal, such as bruxism (grinding the teeth) and clenching (jaw tightening). This continual hammering on the temporomandibular joint can change the alignment of the teeth. Muscle involvement causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the joint.
b) Macrotrauma, such as a punch to the jaw or impact in an accident, can break the jawbone or damage the disc.
- Bruxism: Teeth grinding as a habit can result in muscle spasm and inflammatory reactions, thus causing the initial pain. Generally, someone who has a habit of grinding his or her teeth will do so mostly during sleep
- Clenching: Someone who clenches continually bites on things while awake. This might be chewing gum, a pen or pencil, or fingernails. The constant pounding on the joint causes the pain. Stress is often blamed for tension in the jaw, leading to a clenched jaw.
- Osteoarthritis: Like other joints in the body, the jaw joint is prone to have arthritic changes. These changes are sometimes caused by breakdown of the joint (degeneration) or normal aging.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation. As it progresses, the disease can cause destruction of cartilage and erode bone, deforming joints.
What the signs and symptoms of TMJ pain?
- Headache, jaw, ear, or facial pain?
- Unable to open the mouth comfortably
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
- Locking of the jaw when attempting to open the mouth
- A bite that feels uncomfortable or “off”
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Ringing in the ears or ear pain
- Decreased hearing
- Dizziness and vision problems or other similar problems
- Pain when chewing
- Neck pain
- Scalp Tenderness
- Teeth Grinding and Clenching
- Throat Pain
- Difficult Swallowing
What is the diagnosis and treatment for TMJ pain?
We use the most advanced diagnostic equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders.
First a thorough examination will be conducted which will include
- A postural examination
- a cranial examination
- Dental exam
- Neurological Exam
We will look at range of motion of the jaw, speed of opening and closing, joint sounds, internal TMJ, inflammation and pain.
Your sleep will be evaluated with a sleep study. This will allow us to determine whether you have a sleeping disorder which could be contributing to your TMJ pain.
A scan of your head and neck will be taken to see if there is any obstruction of your nasal or oral airway.
Our treatment plan will be orthotics therapy and a range of adjunctive therapies to help alleviate the pain and correct the bite. Special orthotics/splints that are designed to maximise function and ability to breathe properly, are worn during the day and night. This allows your jaw joint to heal (just like a fractured bone is plastered). Orthotics therapy treatment time is usually three months but in more severe cases the treatment can take longer.
Generally 70% of people tend to improve dramatically after this treatment.
We will review you regularly until we are are happy that you have maximum healing of your jaw joint.
You do not have to live with the pain and debilitation of TMJ.
Please call our centre on 02 9264 9120 if you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to discuss your TMJ problem.