TMJ Dysfunction: What’s that all about?

The majority of us have no pain in our TMJ but it can take very little to set of a chain of events that can lead to jaw pain, ear pain, headaches, neck aching and aching or pain in the shoulders.  It is also believed that some Migraine can stem from TMJ dysfunction.

The jaw joint is the most complicated joint in the body.  It’s true name is the Temporo-mandibular joint or TMJ for short.  It works very hard allowing the amazing range of movements of which the jaw is capable.  It is moving every moment you chew food, swallow, speak or, heaven forbid, grind or clench your teeth.  That’s another problem altogether!

The Dentist is more closely aware of the problems associated with the TMJ, often called TMJ Dysfunction, than your GP because dentists have training in the assessment of jaw movements and TMJ problems and their treatment.  Some Dentists have a special interest and further training in TMJ problems too and can help to identify exactly what is going wrong and then provide a management plan to put things back to normal.

The complexity of the joint itself and of the movements that take place in the joint including the movements of a fibrous disc inside the joint means there is a lot that can go wrong.  Simple damage from a blow to the jaw, a road accident, or even a simple fall, can leave you with any of the injuries that take place in any bone or joint.  These injuries include a fracture of the Condyl neck (the bone just beneath the TMJ), dislocation of the joint, ripping or stretching of the fibrous or ligamentous attachments of the TMJ, tearing of the joint disc and trapping of the disc in open or closed positions causing locking of the jaw open or closed.

The vast majority of TMJ problems can be treated and improvement obtained.  Most treatment is provided using a range of different types of hard plastic devices, known as splints,  worn over the teeth, usually at night and occasionally during the day as well but not during eating.  Such splints can cover only some of the teeth or all of the teeth and may be worn on the upper teeth or the lower teeth as treatment demands.  They include, NTI (Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition) splints, Michegan splints and Anterior Positioning splints to name but a few.

Clicking of the TMJ with no symptoms and no social problems arising (like family complaining about the noise when you eat) can often be left alone.  However, clicking, or joint noises that are accompanied by locking of the jaw open or closed, or pain with clicking, or regular headaches and muscular aching should be looked at and may be treated very successfully.

TMJ problems are quite common and we have many very happy and grateful patients who have benefitted from the experience we have in treating these problems.

Contact the friendly team at NQ Surgical Dentistry today on (07) 4725 1656 or call in to see us at 183 Kings Rd, Pimlico QLD 4812

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