The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint positioned in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. It allows the lower jaw to function and move properly. TMJ disorder defines a wide range of conditions that affect the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and nerves connected with chronic facial pain. Patients experiencing TMJ often encounter extreme discomfort and pain in their jaw. In addition, it can cause problems with their teeth such as excessive wear and breakage. Our goal is to reduce the damage and pain that has been caused by TMJ and provide our patients the best tools, treatment, and appliances to prevent any further pain or injury.
Studies have indicated that over 10 million Americans are affected by a TMJ disorder. In addition, the condition appears to be more common in women than in men. Although TMJ disorders start in the mouth, it can affect the entire body. When your jaw joints are out of balance, our body aims to counterbalance to maintain stability. If untreated, this imbalance can start affecting the spine, thereby creating imbalance and pain in your back. Once the imbalance is transferred down your spine, the pain can develop in your shoulders and upper back. The effect of imbalance can be spontaneous pain or increased pain from your daily activities. In addition to causing imbalance in your body, TMJ can cause pinched nerves close to your jaw joint. As your spine attempt to maintain balance, it can curve slightly causing nerves to be pinched that are between the vertebrae and run to various parts of your body. The most commonly affected nerves are the brachial nerves that run out to your fingers. You may encounter pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands and fingers.
Causes of TMJ
Many TMJ symptoms are caused by effects of physical stress on the structures around the joint. The structures include:
• Cartilage disk at the joint
• Nearby ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves
TMJ disorders can occur if the disk moves out of its proper alignment, the joint’s cartilage is weakened by arthritis, or if the joint is injured by a blow or other impact. In most cases, causes for TMJ disorders are unknown. Some causes for this condition may include a bad bite and tooth grinding due to stress. In addition, poor posture can also be an important factor in TMJ symptoms. Other factors that may make TMJ symptoms work include a lack of sleep and a poor diet.
Many symptoms are associated with TMJ disorders. You may experience difficulty or discomfort in chewing or biting. Clicking or popping may occur while opening and closing the mouth. In addition, you may suffer from earaches, headaches, and tenderness of the jaw.
Our dentists offer many treatment options that will fully correct your TMJ issues. We will discuss the advantages of each treatment in order to suit your needs. Some patients will find comfort through a mouth guard they wear at night. Other patients will need further TMJ treatments to prevent lock-jaw and severe pain.
At Avenues Dentistry, we offer effective TMJ treatments that have been proven to work. Our Salt Lake City dental staff will examine your jaw in order to find alignment problems, arthritis, injury, or other issues that are causing TMJ. To schedule your first appointment with Avenues Dentistry today, call us at (801)-328-4173!