Your temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ, is a joint that connects your jaw to the bones of your skull (called temporal bones), which are in front of each ear. Your TMJ allows you to move your jaw in all directions (side to side, up and down), and it allows you to talk, yawn, and chew. TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder, is a disorder of the TMJ.
What causes TMD?
- Stress, which can cause tightening of the facial and jaw muscles, leading to Bruxism (see above), which can injure the TMJ
- Discrepant movement of the soft tissues within the ball and socket of the TMJ
- Arthritis in the joint.
TMD will often cause acute pain and discomfort. It can be short-lived, or longer-term. It can affect one or both joints. Women tend to get TMD more than men do. It’s most common in peole between the ages of 20-50.
Common symptoms of TMD:
- Pain when trying to open wide
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint area, and even in the neck and shoulders, and in the ear area when you speak, chew, or try to open your mouth
- Getting “lock jaw” – that is, your jaw suddenly locking up when you open wide
- Crepitus, which means clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close. Note that Crepitus might not be accompanied by pain. In the absence of any negative symptoms, crepitus in and of itself is not necessarily a problem.
- Dull facial pain
- Trouble chewing or feeling as if your bite is “off,” i.e. the upper and lower teeth are not coming together properly.
- Tooth aches, neck pain, migraines, earaches, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Contact Pure Dental Arts for a TMD consultation
If your bite, speech, eating, or smile have started to feel like work, contact Pure Dental Arts in Queen Anne, Seattle. We will evaluate your TMJ, determine whether TMD is the cause, and work with you on a treatment plan that’s right for you.