Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
It is a term that normally involves the acute or chronic inflammation of the Temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible or jaw to the skull. This disorder usually goes undiagnosed since it parallels itself between dental and medical and its symptoms usually mask that of a disorder unrelated to a joint disorder.
TMJ Disorder results in significant discomfort from many symptoms such as:
- pain behind the eyes
- depression, autoimmune symptoms
- imbalance, fainting, difficulty swallowing
- ringing in the ears
Usually people with these symptoms will visit their primary physician and receive medication to ease the symptoms, but no cause for the symptoms are diagnosed.
Amazingly, these symptoms also go hand in hand with anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, neck pain and earaches. All these symptoms together make up approximately 50 % of all visits to the family physician. Interestingly, these symptoms imitate other disorders and a dental diagnosis or joint disorder is never even considered.
What is TMJ/D and what causes this to happen?
Between the bones of the lower jaw and upper jaw is a joint which connects them together. Within this joint is a very thin disc that plays a vital role in keeping everything in equilibrium.
This disc is made up of fibrous connective tissue that keeps the mandible (lower jaw) from coming in contact with the temporal bone of the skull and also keeps the mandible from impinging on a large number of nerves and blood vessels which run behind the joint , past the ear and then on to the brain.
This disc is very thin and could be misaligned or displaced by causes such as:
- trauma to the head or neck
- natural misalignment of the lower jaw
- deep over bite, teeth clenching
- grinding or degenerative diseases
Once the nerves are pinched, pain is felt in the areas where the nervesare traveling whether it be the ear, neck or shoulder.
Blood vessels that are pinched can result in migraines, dizziness, sleep apnea, and further clenching and grinding since oxygen is being deprived from the brain.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ/D
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Dizziness, facial or back pain
- Headaches, migraines
- Worn or loose teeth
- Sore or stiff jaw muscles
- Pain when chewing
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Uncomfortable bite
- Congestion or stuffiness of the ears
- Ear ringing/buzzing sound n the ear
- Limited jaw opening
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tingling fingers/hand numbness
What Is The Treatment?
The good news is that 95% of TMD can be treated non surgically. The objective is to stabilize the lower jaw for a period of time through jaw realignment therapy. This repositioning orthotic therapy basically holds the lower jaw in its correct position thereby reducing or eliminating any pinching or obstruction on the nerves or blood vessels next to the temporalmandibular joint.
Many of our patients who have simply spent years in discomfort or pain are ecstatic to find that there are finally solutions to their problems.
The first step if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms of TMD is to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Urbieta to assess your current condition and treatment if necessary.