TMJ is short for ‘temporo-mandibular joint’, which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and your skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.
- What kind of problems might I have?
- If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you can have problems not only in your teeth themselves, but also the gums, the temporo-mandibular joint or the muscles that move your jaw. These problems are called ‘occlusal’ problems.
- How can I tell if I have a problem?
You may find that you clench or grind your teeth, although most people who do aren’t aware of it. Sometimes clenching or grinding of teeth can be caused by anxiety, but also it occurs when they are concentrating on a task - housework, gardening, car maintenance, typing and so on.
You may wake up in the morning with a stiff jaw or tenderness when you bite together. This could be due to clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep. Most people who grind their teeth do it while they are asleep and may not know they are doing it.
If you suffer from severe headaches, or neck and shoulder pain, you may not have linked this with possible jaw problems. Or you may keep having pain or discomfort on the side of your face around your ears or jaw joints or difficulty in moving your jaw. These are all symptoms of TMJ problems.
If you are missing some teeth at the back of your mouth, this may lead to an unbalanced bite, which can cause uneven pressure on your teeth.
Together, all these symptoms are called ‘TMJ syndrome’.
- What treatment will I need?
- Alison may recommend various treatments including:
- Jaw analysis
- Construction of a bite splint