Many people experience recurrent pain involving the head, jaw, face and neck. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a common cause of many of these complaints. Temporomandibular disorders are often referred to as “TMJ.”
Common TMJ symptoms include:
TMJ sufferers may also report migraines, neck aches, dizziness, jaw fatigue, sinus problems, jaw pain, dental pain, muscle spasms, sleep disruption, restricted jaw motion, grinding and clenching behavior.
A temporomandibular disorder occurs as a result of injury or imbalance of the jaw joints, jaw muscles or other closely aligned or related structures. Contributing factors to TMJ include jaw postural imbalance, abnormal jaw function, stretched or strained muscles and/or ligaments and illnesses such as arthritis. It has been shown that work stress or problems at home can have an impact on temporomandibular disorders. When these factors occur, they may overload the adaptive capabilities of the jaw, resulting in pain and dysfunction.
Impairment of chewing, swallowing, speaking, hearing and even breathing can involve the jaw and related structures. In severe cases of TMJ the jaw can actually lock open or closed and compromise these functions.
Comprehensive care involves therapy from a dentist with special training in jaw postural disorders and atypical orofacial pain. Diagnostic tests may include X-rays, dental models and computerized jaw function measurement. Multidisciplinary treatment can include medical, dental, orthotic, physical, myofascial, behavioral, acupuncture or surgical therapy.