The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that connects each side of the upper and lower jaw to the skull. Much like other joints, it relies on a functional joint, the supporting bone structure, ligaments and muscles to all work in sync with one another.
If one of these components starts to malfunction, the results become painful and cumbersome to each day. A number of factors contribute to these problems, such as grinding your teeth, clenching the jaw, injuries, disease, arthritis, weakening muscles, and more. These and other issues may contribute to temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. TMD sufferers may experience degrees of neck and head pain, sensitive teeth, sore jaw muscles, difficulty opening or closing the jaw, soft tissue tenderness, and even lockjaw.
Depending on the suspected causes and diagnosed severity of your TMD, a dentist will implement simple corrective measures to treat the issues. Often, a corrective plan is done with a combination of treatment and activities. A simple nighttime mouth guard will position enough space between upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding, while exercises like resting the jaw, small diet changes, jaw muscle exercises, ice and hot pack applications and posture training help reduce the joint stress causing the disorder.
Most cases have a variety of simple and non-invasive techniques to reduce and resolve the problems, A small number of advanced cases may require more involved adjustments and surgical procedures, as determined through consultation, however most patients can correct the constant discomfort of TMD with much simpler procedures.