TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as the jaw joint.
There are two of these joints located in front of each ear. They are formed by the temporal bone of the skull (temporo) with the lower jaw (mandible) hence Temporomandibular. They are the point at which the lower jaw attaches to the base of the skull.
TMJ Dysfunction is the loss of proper biomechanics in the joint. This can be caused by trauma, improper posture, muscle imbalance, bruxism (grinding teeth and clenching jaw), dental malocclusion, craniovertebral joint fixations and disc derangements.
What Are the Symptoms?
TMJ Dysfuction often causes severe pain and discomfort. It can be temporary or last many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mount wide
- Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
- A tired feeling in your face
- Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite — as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of your face
You may also have toothaches, headaches neck aches, dizziness, ear aches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
What can be done?
Physiotherapy Treatments include:
- Restoring proper biomechanics of the TMJ and cervical spine
- Mobilisation/manipulation for disc displacement
- Specific exercises for weak/dysfunctional muscles
- Specific exercises and mobilisation techniques to aid in disc placement
- Acupuncture for reduction of pain and muscle spasm
- Ultrasound and laser for pain and swelling
- Proper Dental bite plate