TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area on the skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in its where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
Just a few symptoms/problems in this area can cause:
- Headaches, Head pain, Sinus issues
- Issues with Eyes and Eyesight
- Ear Problems
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking, Locking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face and neck
Throat Discomfort, Laryngitis and Feeling of Needing to Clear Throat
The many symptoms of TMJ are seemingly unrelated, making diagnosis extremely difficult. This is why TMJ syndrome has been nicknamed "The Great Impostor".
Symptoms usually begin with soreness in the muscles aroudnthe jaws. As the disease progresses, any combination of symptoms may develop.
TMJ Symptoms usually begin due to the malalignment of the jaws and/or teeth. This causes muscualr imbalance which causes clenching and/or grinding of the teeth. Many patients are totally unaware of these actions because they may occur mostly during sleep Psychological stress (i.e., loss of a loved one, financial and family pressures, etc.) increases muscular tension also causing clenching and/or grinding
Some patients are actively clienching and grinding during the day. Daily stressors, such as driving to and from work, unexpeted social situations and even during a work-out can attribute to clenching and/or grinding.
Non-surgical therapy usually involves placement of a clear plastic "Splint" over the upper or lower teeth. This seperates the teeth and allows the lower jaw to position itself in an anatomically correct position. The muscles and ligamnets can then relax, allowing syptoms to subside.
When the patient is comfortable, the malalignment of the teeth and jaws can be analyzed and corrected. Correction might involve surgery (although this is RARELY needed), orthodontics or occlusal equilibration.
In an attempt to reduce stress, stress reduction or biofeedback programs may be recommended. In a severe case of stress, referral to a psychologist may be appropriate. Physical therapy may also be suggested.
TMJ syndrome is complex and often debilitating. Dr. Iskol and Dr. Fisk have gone through extensive training to diagnosis and help treat and relieve TMJ symptoms.