Arguably the most complex set of joints in the human body, the Temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. The TMJ is comprised of muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and bones that control the opening and closure of the mouth. The joints allow movement up and down, side to side, and forward and back—all the mobility necessary for biting, chewing and swallowing food, speaking, and making facial expressions.
Due to the complexity of the muscular systems associated with the jaw area, the Temporomandibular Joints can often become misaligned or irritated. This can lead to pain in the surrounding soft tissues as well as clicking, popping, or deviations in the movements of the TMJ joints. Others symptoms include biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort, earache, headache, jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw, as well as reduced ability to open or close the mouth.
Causes of TMJ disorder vary among patients but are often related to injury, oral misalignment and clenching or grinding of the teeth. Conditions that routinely affect other joints in the body, such as arthritis, also affect the temporomandibular joint.
Because the cause of TMJ disorders varies widely from patient to patient, it is best to let your dentist develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Our experienced team at Jason C. Croft DMD, General Family Dentistry can diagnose and recommend a treatment to alleviate pain and improve or restore normal TMJ function, typically using non-invasive TMJ therapy procedures.