TMJ is the acronym for temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (the mandible) to your skull at the temporal bone. This joint controls many jaw functions, like chewing. If the chewing muscles or the joint itself are causing you pain you may have temporamandibular disorder, or TMD. TMD can be caused by stress, continual clenching of the jaw muscles, or teeth grinding.
Some of the symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain when opening or closing mouth
- Trouble chewing
- Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
- Headaches or ear pain
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening your mouth
- Teeth Grinding
Many of these symptoms can often be associated with other health problems, so only a medical professional can tell you if it is due to TMD. Teeth grinding is an especially problematic symptom because it can lead to further problems. Prolonged teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin. This material is softer than enamel and more susceptible to decay. Sensitivity to hot and cold food or drink may also develop from excessive teeth grinding.
If you suspect you may have TMD come in for a consultation. We can help diagnose you and provide relief for your symptoms. Pain relievers and hot/cold compresses are short term methods to provide relief for pain symptoms. A night guard can be used to help prevent or lessen the effects of teeth grinding at night. This can lead to a more permanent solution. In very severe cases of TMD surgery may be required, but behavioral treatments to change the way you use your jaw muscles are usually enough to provide relief.
The way our teeth come together directly affects the health of our TMJ joint. In a healthyjoint when teeth come into contact we want the joint to seat into it's most comfortable position therefore allowing our muscles to relax and prevent inflammation.
The job of our front teeth is to protect our back teeth when we are eating, talking, or grinding. If they are not doing their job correctly tooth wear, chipping, cracking and TMJ pain will result and continue to get worse over time.
In a properly functioning bite the job of the canine teeth is to prevent all back teeth from contacting when doing chewing motions. This prevents wear of the back teeth.
What you want ot see is smooth transition from the canine to the center teeth. That takes the forces off the back teeth protecting those teeth, muscles and TMJ.
Do you wake in the morning with sore jaws?
When you bite, do you feel like your jaw is lopsided? If so, then you may need an occlusal adjustment.
An occlusal adjustment corrects the alignment of the bite, that is a result of loose, shifting, crowded, or missing teeth. The result is an evenly distributed bite that eliminates irregular pressure on one side of the mouth. Once your bite is adjusted, your teeth will meet properly. Occlusal adjustment causes minimal pain, and only a little discomfort. The adjustment is made by using a dental drill using a fine filing stone. In addition to the actual adjustment, removal mouthpieces are also utilized, to protect the tooth surface, and relax the jaw muscles once the adjustment is completed.
Who is a good candidate for an occlusal adjustment? Patients with loose or shifting teeth will many times not meet correctly. Patients, who grind or clench their teeth, will have an uneven bite and pressure distribution in the mouth, which is also corrected through an occlusal adjustment. Sometimes tooth sensitivity can be corrected through an occlusal adjustment as the treatment reduces pressure on the sensitive tooth.
New technology allows dentists to accurately identify the areas, which need adjustments. The dentist utilizes a computer scan of the mouth, which records hundreds of bite registrations per minute, and notes even the slightest irregularity. That data allows the dentist to make only the adjustments that are absolutely necessary, which ensures a well aligned bite and minimal tooth wear.
If you suspect that you may need an occlusal adjustment, schedule an appointment.
HOW THE CHEWING MUSCLES AND JAW JOINTS WORK.
The structures that make it possible to open and close the mouth are very specialized and work together when you chew, speak and swallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the bones and discs which make up the TM joints.
The TM joint is one of the most complex joints in the body, especially because there are two of them working together.
They are capable of making many different types of movements, including combinations of hinge and gliding action.
Close-up of TM joint. The disc acts like a shock absorber between the ball (condyle) and socket (articular eminence).
A number of muscles allow you to open and close your mouth. They also control forward, backward and side-to-side movements of the lower jaw. Both joints also are involved in these movements. Each of these joints has a disc between the ball and socket (see diagram). This disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and to move in combinations of hinge and gliding movements. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a TM disorder.
CAUSES OF TM DISORDERS
When muscles and joints do not work properly, the muscles will often go into a spasm (cramp). This spasm can become part of a cycle that results in tissue damage, pain, muscle tenderness and more spasm. While some cases of TM disorder may have clear-cut causes such as trauma, arthritis, or severe stress, most are due to a combination of factors. Discs often slip forward in the joint, leading to problems such as clicking, popping, or even getting "stuck" for a moment.
However, these often are minor problems, and in the absence of jaw pain they usually don't require treatment.
Oral habits such as clenching or grinding the teeth (bruxism) may develop as a response to stress, or as part of a sleep disorder. You may not be aware of nighttime clenching or grinding, but you may catch yourself doing this during the day. These habits can tire the muscles and cause them to go into spasm. The spasm causes pain which in turn causes more spasm. In time, persistent muscle problems may affect the joints themselves, and a complex cycle of pain and improper function will be set up. It is important to note that while many of the above factors are believed to cause TM disorders, the exact causes of the disorders are unknown and sometimes it is not possible to determine the causes of the symptoms.
UNCLENCH YOUR JAW AND UNLEASH A BETTER ATHLETE.
You are "hard-wired" to clench your jaw. When you train and compete, your natural reaction is to clench your jaw. It's part of the "fight or flight" wiring of your brain. Your clenched jaw and teeth compress your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), triggering the release of excess amounts of performance-sapping hormones (like cortisol) that produce stress, fatigue and distraction.
UA Performance Mouthwear helps the human body help itself by unlocking the power of the jaw. Patented Arrnourstte' Technology prevents your teeth from clenching and pivots your jaw forward to relieve pressure on the TMJ. Gone is the excess negative hormones and the energy-draining effects, so the body can now unleash its full potential. Independent studies conducted at some of the nation's top universities and research centers have proven the undeniable advantages of UA Performance Mouth wear.
Powered by ArmourBite'" Mouthwear Technology
With improved airflow and less stress from clenching, UA Performance Mouthwear has been proven to increase strength by an average of 17% with the UA Performance Mouthpiece and 12% with the UA Performance Mouthguard.
UA Performance Mouthwear enlarges airway openings, resulting in 25% less lactic acid build-up after 30 minutes of intense exercise.
Speeds Up Reaction Time
Athletes may respond faster when wearing UA Performance Mouthwear. Clinical trials show an improvement in responding to auditory cues and potential improvement in response to visual cues.
Reduces Athletic Stress
Excess cortisol causes stress, fatigue and distraction. UA Performance Mouthwear decreases cortisol production, which means you feel & play better.
When the jaw suffers an impact, energy can be transmitted to the head, which can cause concussion'. UA Performance Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the G-Force impact of blows to the jaw by up to 20%.