The TMJ joint is the area in front of each ear that connects the lower and upper jaw. It is a typical sliding “ball and socket” joint and it consists of multiple muscles, tendons and bones and is the most commonly used area of the body. TMJ disorders are a complex set of problems which are also referred to as myofascial pain dysfunction and Costen’s syndrome.
There are many possible causes for TMJ. If we have a problem with our muscles or tendons in this area, we can experience problems such as teeth grinding, habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting, dental problems and teeth misalignment (malocclusion), jaw trauma and stress which leads to grinding and clenching as a result of unreleased energy.
Some symptoms of TMJ disorders are:
- ear pain
- bite problems
- clicking sounds or locked jaws
- fullness or ringing in the ear
Unbalanced activity, spasm and overuse of the jaw muscles are some symptoms of TMJ. In order to diagnose TMJ, a complete dental and medical evaluation is generally required. Some symptoms of TMJ are: chewing may become painful, a popping sound which is representative of damaged jaw joints, the jaw may lock or not open widely, and ear, sinus and teeth infections are very common.
Treatment of TMJ usually involves:
- Jaw rest
- Heat and ice therapy
- Medications, i.e. anti-inflammatories
- Physical therapy
- stress management
- occlusial therapy
- correction of bite abnormalities