TMJ/ Teeth Grinding - National Dental Care
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TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which describes the two joints near the front of your ears where the upper and lower jaws connect.

Damage occurs to the TMJ when the disc in the joint, the cushioning cartilage, slips out of position. This will often cause pain, jaw locking or a clicking/grating noise when you open and close your mouth. It may even change the way your teeth bite together.

TMJ damage may be the result of clenching your jaw excessively or grinding your teeth (usually at night), or may be a consequence of breathing disturbances, night time disordered breathing or sleep apnoea. TMJ damage can also be caused by injuries to the head and neck region or arthritis.

Don’t go on living with the pain

TMJ disorders can be associated with otherwise unexplained facial pain, headaches, dizziness, tinnitus or ringing in the ears and neck and back pain. A combination of these symptoms is often referred to as TMJ dysfunction (or TMD).

You may be at risk of TMD if you often wake up with sore/stiff muscles around your jaw, have frequent headaches or neck/back aches, clench your jaw often due to stress, find it difficult to open your mouth wide to eat or yawn, suffer from sleep disturbances or sleep apnoea, arthritis, or have sensitive and severely worn teeth.

Treatments for TMJ disorders will vary greatly depending on your level of discomfort and the possible underlying cause. It is best to consult your National Dental Care dentist, who will examine you and suggest the best form of treatment for you. Often, practitioners other than dentists need to be involved in your treatment, such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, medical GPs and even podiatrists.

FAQs

What is temporomandibular disorder (TMJ /TMD)?

The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of your head. They make it possible to open and close your mouth, and work together when you speak, chew or swallow. These joints also control the lower jaw as it moves forward, backward and side to side. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMD or temporomandibular disorder.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

If you have TMD (also referred to as TMJ) you will experience a lot of pain, especially chronic headaches or migraines, or pain in the neck, shoulder and back. Other symptoms can include:

  • Ringing or congestion in the ears
  • Loose teeth
  • Worn, chipped or cracked teeth and fillings
  • Pain and sensitivity in the teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Fractures at the gum line
  • Pain or clicking and popping in the jaw joint
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and fingers
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Loss of chewing efficiency

What are the causes of TMJ?

TMJ disorders are generally caused by a combination of problems with the joint, and stress on its surrounding structures. Some causes of joint problems include:

  • Arthritis, injury and dislocation of the joint, which can be due to an improperly-aligned bite or joint hyper-mobility (looseness of the jaw).
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) can put significant stress on the jaw muscles. People who clench their teeth during the day and grind their teeth while asleep will often suffer from muscle pain and tightness, as well as damage to the teeth.
  • Poor posture (eg, holding your head forward while looking at your computer screen) can also strain the muscles of your jaw, face and neck. The onset of TMD can be gradual or sudden.

Fortunately, TMD is treatable. Through Neuromuscular Dentistry, we are now able to gently and gradually correct the position of your jaw. In most cases, by aligning the jaw and getting it back to its proper position, we will eliminate the recurrence of the symptoms.

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