The best way to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders is the use of Neuromuscular Dentistry (NMD).
Here is a fantastic youtube whiteboard video developed by a friend of mine in Calagary, Canada, which really clarifies the whole TMJ concept. It’s about 10 minutes long, but well worth the time.
This is a rather lengthy article on NMD.
The following websites may be helpful:
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question below to see the answer:
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a jaw-to-skull joint that slides and rotates. Located just in front of your ear, the joint includes the side and base of your skull (temporal bone) and lower jaw (mandible). Strong chewing muscles connect your lower jaw to the skull, allowing you to move your jaw forward, sideways, and open and close your mouth. The joint is aligned properly when your lower jaw and its joint on both sides are synchronized during movement.
A small cartilage disk (called the articular disc) sits in the joint. It moves with the lower jaw, absorbing the terrific pressure of chewing. Like the discs in your spine, the articular disc has no nerves, so it is ideal for absorbing stress. Sometimes this disc moves out of place, which can cause pain of many types.
Normal function for these muscles involve chewing, swallowing, speech and communication. Experts suggest that certain mental or physical tasks cause or aggravate TMD, including strenuous physical tasks or stressful situations. Most discomfort is caused from overusing your chewing muscles, specifically through tooth clenching or grinding (bruxism). Chewing hard foods or chewing gum can aggravate TMD.
These excessive habits tire your jaw muscles and lead to headaches, neck pain, or other discomfort. Abnormal jaw function can also lead to worn teeth, muscle soreness, sensitive teeth, jaw discomfort when eating, and temporal (side) headaches.
- An earache with no infection
- Jaw pain or soreness, often greater in the morning or late afternoon
- Jaw pain when you chew, bite or yawn
- Clicking when opening and closing your mouth
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- Locked or stiff jaw when you talk, yawn or eat
- Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
- Headaches, usually in the temple region.
The majority of cases can be treated by ‘unloading’ (resting) the joint, taking a non-Tylenol pain reliever and practicing stress management and relaxation techniques. It’s important to break bad habits to ease the symptoms. Most TMD treatment is simple, can often be done at home, and doesn’t need surgery. For example, you can control clenching or grinding during the day by sticking your tongue between your teeth. If you still experience pain, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night. So see your dentist about a nighttime mouthguard.
Most people experience relief with minor treatment. More severe cases may be treated with physical therapy, ice and hot packs, posture training and neuromuscular dentistry-please see the PDF file at the beginning of this article. Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing gum also helps relax your jaw muscles.
Some patients require alterations to their bite to reduce pressure points. Therapy can involve splints, orthodontic work, or restorations on the teeth to change the bite.