TMJ Disorders Q & A
What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ stands for the tempomandibular joint, more commonly referred to as the jaw joint, where the upper and lower jaws meet. This joint is formed by the juncture of the skull and the lower jaw bone. Between these two bones is a disc that serves as a cushion to facilitate movement. TMJ disorder (sometimes called TMD) is a condition that occurs when this joint fails to met correctly, interfering with normal function and movement and resulting in inflammation and chronic pain. Pain is most noticeable when speaking, eating, yawning and even sneezing. Left untreated, TMJ disorder can also cause chronic headaches and persistent jaw pain as well as a clicking noise when the jaws are moved.
What causes TMJ disorder?
In many cases, TMJ disorder is caused when the jaw grows in an asymmetrical way during childhood. Osteoarthritis, trauma and tooth loss are other common causes. Chronic clenching and tooth grinding habits may also play a role in causing the condition, although both of these habits can also occur as a result of TMJ disorder.
How is TMJ disorder treated?
There are different approaches to treating TMJ disorder. Although surgery used to be considered the primary treatment, today surgery is reserved for severe cases that cause debilitating symptoms. Most patients can be effectively treated with a specially-designed mouth guard designed to gently cushion the jaws and prevent the stress and strain on the joint that can cause headaches and other symptoms. Another approach is to help realign the bite through the use of bridges, crowns or orthodontic treatment. The dentists at Westwood Dental Arts Center will determine which approach is best for you based on a thorough evaluation of your needs.