Have you been suffering from facial pain, headaches, neck or shoulder pain or limited jaw opening? Our dentists in Selkirk are here to explain why you might have a TMJ disorder.
Dysfunction of the jaw and pain in the neck and head are common complaints from people, and may be easily resolved. They can also be complex conditions with many different factors causing them. Jaw pain is usually known as TMJ, but more correctly called TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder. It can be frustrating for patients and challenging for dentists and other health professionals to treat, depending on the circumstances.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder or TMJ Pain
- Headache / Migraine
- Jaw joint pain
- Hot and cold sensitive teeth
- Limited mouth opening
- Ringing in the ears
- Eye pain, ear pain
- Loose teeth
- Sleep apnea
- Clenching or grinding
- Jaw joint clicking or popping
- Chewing difficulties
- Difficulty swallowing
- Postural problem - neck, back pain
- Tingling of the fingers
- Ear congestion
- Nervousness or insomnia
- Facial pain
How can all of these symptoms be related to the teeth and bite?
There are two joints in the lower jaw called temporomandibular joints (TMJs). The TMJ has a condyle of the head, which rests in a depression in front of both ears. You can put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your jaw to feel the joints moving down and forward as you open. Tendons, muscles, ligaments and this joint hold the lower jaw in place.
If acute trauma or a long-term "bad bite" causes the bite to be misaligned, the soft tissues surrounding the joint can be compressed and inflamed.
TMJ pain can cause pain in the ears as complex nerves and delicate muscles fall out of balance, also sending pain to the shoulders, back and neck. This is known as referred pain.
What causes TMJ disorders?
The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth. Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
- The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders isn't clear, and some risk factors include various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, jaw injury, chronic grinding of teeth, and connective tissue disease.
Treating TMJ Facial Pain
The approach to treat TMJ pain at Interlake Dental Centre is based on psychology. An important factor is whether this pain has flared up suddenly and is acute or if it is long-term chronic pain. You have two choices to consider – treat the pain and mask the symptoms or treat the underlying factors causing the pain.