TMJ And Dentistry?
What is TMJ Joint?
The temporomandibular joint (often called the TMJ Joint) is located at the base of the skull in front of the ear and connects a person’s lower jaw with the upper jaw. This joint is unique in structure as it is made up of a rounded protrusion of the lower jaw that sits against an indentation of the skull and a disc-like structure made of cartilage found in between the bones. The TMJ is held together by ligaments connected to parts of the head and neck, enabling them to guide its movements and support the jaw itself.
Why do we need a TMJ Joint?
Without this joint we would not be able to move our mouth, meaning we wouldn’t be able to speak, eat or even yawn.
The joint, itself, works in two ways:
Like a hinge: it simply opens and closes the mouth.
Sliding motion: this motion is called translation, which moves the jaw down and forward.
Why might this joint hurt?
The TMJ joint may experience pain sometimes just like any other joint, you’ll feel this pain between the lobe of your ear and the back of your jaw bone.
The pain can come from the teeth in your mouth instead of the muscles and ligaments as a result of grinding or clenching. Grinding your teeth can be harmful if your teeth are misaligned and/or certain movements can cause teeth to grind against one another. This grinding movement can create pain within the TMJ joint.
Clenching your teeth can also cause TMJ joint pain in much the same way that grinding does, it puts additional pressure on the muscles, ligaments and bones within the joint resulting in fatigue and pain.
Workplace or personal stress is normally the culprit behind grinding and clenching of the teeth but not to worry, your dentist can provide you with dental care to alleviate the effects grinding your teeth has on both your teeth and your TMJ joint. This care might be in the form of a fitted retainer that is to be worn at night, protecting your teeth and preventing the movements associated with grinding.
How does a dentist diagnose an issue with my TMJ joint?
Your dentist will:
- Listen to and feel the jaw when you open and close your mouth,
- Press on the muscle and skin around the jaw to see whether you experience any pain or discomfort,
- Observe the motion of the jaw and joint itself,
- Check your teeth for signs of damage, such as worn-down enamel.
Your dentist may also suggest the use of Cerezen™, this is a custom-made in-ear device that can help to relieve the pain and symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorders such as TMJ. The device is made of two 3D-printed, custom-made, hollow auditory canal inserts which allow sound to pass through to the ear and is barely visible outside of the ear.
The Cerezen™ device provides support to the temporomandibular joint and associated secondary musculature, to reduce strain by keeping the ear canal in the relaxed jaw position, reducing grinding and clenching in the jaw.
How do I keep my TMJ joint in good health?
Just like keeping your teeth healthy, you should regularly visit your dentist and dental hygienist to prevent complications during a routine dental exam. Proper brushing and using a toothpaste containing fluoride can help to reverse any wear and tear damage caused to the enamel as a result of a TMJ condition, such as grinding.
If you have any pain in your jaw or teeth it is always important to visit your dentist and voice your concerns. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Should you find that you are grinding your teeth, would like some advice or would simply like to book an appointment, please contact us on 01952 460119 or fill out our enquiry form.
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