TMJ (Temporo Mandibular Joint) Disorder
TMJ stands for “temporo mandibular joint”, or jaw joint. These are the small joints in front of each ear that attach the lower jaw to the skull, which are actually the most complex joints in the entire body. The area of the face where the TMJ is located is an intricate network of bones, including the teeth, muscles, and nerves. Because of this, TMJ conditions affect many areas of the body, from the top of the head in migraine-like headaches to numbness or tingling in the arms, and pain in the neck or shoulders.
TMJ Dysfunction is a term used to describe a group of symptoms. In many cases, people suffering from TMJ report chronic pain in the jaw, teeth, face, head, neck, shoulders, or back, or any combination of these areas. Snoring, grinding of teeth, frequent ear infections and restricted airway are other problems that can be associated with TMJ. This group of symptoms is also referred to as MPD (myofascial pain dysfunction) and craniomandibular dysfunction.
Who Suffers From TMJ?
The majority of people suffer to a greater or lesser degree from TMJ. Although women report more pain from TMJ. TMJ in men causes as much or more damage to the teeth, gums, bones and joints. Children are especially sensitive to TMJ and usually show early signs with ear infections, leaning their head on an arm, lip, cheek, or finger biting, sucking or chewing, headaches, snoring, grinding of their teeth at night, and significant chewing of gum.
What Causes TMJ?
In most cases, TMJ disorders stem from having a “bad bite” or accidents and trauma. It means that your upper and lower teeth do not close together in the correct way—they are misaligned. When the teeth are misaligned, they cannot provide the support the muscles in the face need for chewing and swallowing. These muscles are then forced into a strained position, resulting in pain throughout the face, head, arms, shoulders, and back.