There are two temporomandibular joints or TMJ’s. They are situated in front of each ear.
If you put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your mouth you will be able to feel the joint. These joints move every time we talk, swallow or chew.
The TMJ is a sliding joint, this sliding allows pressure placed on the joint to be distributed throughout the joint and not just on one area. There is also a small fibrous cartilage or disc that acts as a friction absorber, preventing the bones rubbing together.
A temporomandibular disorder or TMD is a disruption in the action of the jaw. Fortunately, because the joint is made of bone and other living tissue it is capable of repair and healing.
Dysfunction of the jaw may be caused by trauma, poor posture, teeth grinding or skeletal malformation.
DO YOU HAVE A TMJ PROBLEM?
Signs of a TMD include one or more of the following symptoms:
- Ear ache or congestion or ringing in the ears
- Clicking, popping or grinding sounds in the ears
- Recurring headaches
- Pain when chewing
- Neck or throat pain
- Difficulty closing the teeth together
- Pain behind the eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
Diagnosis of a TMD:
A thorough examination is required to make a diagnosis of Temporomandibular Disorder.
- Physical Examination – Postural exam to discover any musculoskeletal problems.
- Cranial Examination – To look at the alignment of the jaw and mouth in relation to the rest of the body.
- Dental Examination – To evaluate swallowing patterns, mouth shape, tooth wear and so on.
- Neurological Examination – To test for nerve damage.
- TMJ examination – To check the range of motion and smoothness of the jaw, and to check for joint inflammation, pain or presence of joint noises.
- Joint Vibration Analysis – To record vibrations made by the joint tissues during movement.
All these examinations will be done in one comprehensive visit to the dental surgery. A thorough medical history will be taken, this is essential as it allows a base line of your general health to be established. It also makes it possible to assess the progress being made as treatment progresses.
This holistic approach to wellness takes into consideration many aspects of your body and lifestyle which all go together to contribute to your overall health and wellbeing.
IF you feel you may have either a sleep disorder or sleep apnoea or a temporomandibular disorder, please contact the surgery to make an appointment to see Paul who can properly diagnose and treat the problem.