Eating, speaking, drinking… if just the thought of these is causing you to hold your face in pain, there’s a chance Temporomandibular Joint Disorder may be the cause.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (most commonly known as TMJ Disorder or TMD) is a complex, multifaceted condition that affects the Temporomandibular Joint; the bony articular surfaces of the skull and mandible, the muscles that facilitate movement of the mandible, the teeth and the nervous system that coordinates the complex movement of the mandible.
How do I know if I have TMJ Disorder?
The symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder are jaw pain, abnormal jaw movements and joint noises like clicks or crunching sounds; and can be caused by trauma to the joint such as direct force or an indirect blow secondary to an accident. However the most common cause of TMJ Disorder is micro-trauma to the joint, commonly called dental bruxism or clenching.
TMJ Disorder and Bruxism
Micro-trauma (commonly called dental bruxism or clenching) is the repeated grinding of your teeth, often at night while you sleep. Referred to as nocturnal bruxism, the action is involuntary and centrally mediated by the central nervous system (CNS). Research concludes the most common causes are anxiety, stress, pain (postural) and Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) where people actually grind their teeth so they can maintain an airway.
The disease profile includes, but is not limited to:
Limited opening of the jaw, locking of jaw position in open / closed position
Jaw pain, jaw joint noises – clicking, popping & grating
Headaches, neck & shoulder pain
Tinnitus, ear congestion
Peripheral tingling in the upper extremities
Restless leg syndrome
Poor posture – lower back pain, head posture
Generalised fatigue, lethargy
How do I treat TMJ Disorder?
Treatment of TMJ Disorder involves a thorough exploration of the history of your condition, an examination including range of motion, postural evaluation, cranial nerve evaluation, muscle palpation and a detailed assessment of your autonomic nervous system through evaluation of your motor reflexes. Once a diagnosis has been made, we can prescribe a treatment plan that may include a dental orthotic for relief of symptoms.
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