What on earth is a temprodandibular joint anyways?
The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull, and is
associated with the jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each
side of the head, your TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and
ligaments as well as the mandible. Often it is also referred to as temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD).
Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working
properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
Possible causes of TMJ disorder:
- Traumatic injury
- Tooth or jaw misalignment
Symptoms of TMJ disorder:
- Jaw pain
- Pain across side of face
- Ear pain
- Chronic headaches
- Jaw stiffness
- "Locked" jaw
- Popping or clicking when moving mouth
- Limited range of mouth movements
One of the most difficult steps of treating TMJ is diagnosis. Examination for TMJ includes checking the joints and
muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving as well as doing necessary radiographs.
Depending on the diagnosis, Dr. Krueger will recommend the best treatment for resolving the TMJ
problems. Some of the recommendations may be night guard or oral orthotic therapy, eating softer diet,
avoiding chewing gum, use of anti-inflammatory medications, moist heat packs and exercises to
strengthen the jaw muscles. In cases where there is misalignment of teeth or jaws it may be necessary
to adjust the shape of the teeth, do restorations, or have orthodontic treatment.