TMJ or (TMD) Causes and Treatments
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Hi, I’m Dr. Derrick Johnson, and I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about TMJ. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and so that is this part of your anatomy.
It’s basically your jaw joint hinge. Sometimes you’ll hear the term TMD, which is temporomandibular dysfunction or disorder. But anyway, that’s the topic today, and it’s actually a pretty big topic, and the reason I say that is this is the most used joint in your body, and if you look at, basically, what does your head do, it only one mechanical function. It opens and closes and moves the jaw. So, all of your … the major muscles of your head actually tie into movement of this joint.
And I want to show you, this is a piece of software. It’s really helpful. It’s called BiteFX. But, as far as illustrating how the jaw works, what we have here … Here’s the actual joint itself, and here’s all the muscles that come together to move the jaw. And what we want in health, we want this system to be in harmony and coordinated, and what that means is when this joint fits with the disc, there’s a disc in place, when the joint fits, all the teeth fit, and your nervous system and the muscles, they like that when things fit.
I’ll often use the analogy of a door. A door’s another hinged system. So, here’s a door that, it fits very well, so it’s very effortless to open and close this door. Hardly any effort, but you could imagine if that door was off the hinge, and imagine if I had to open it every single time, it would take a lot of energy and a lot of muscle activity.
So basically, when this jaw joint is off the hinge, and it’s not lining up with the teeth, your body does this self-protective response, just like opening the door off the hinge. The muscles are all tense all the time trying to coordinate the jaw joint. And the problem with that is it can cause a lot of damage. It can cause sore muscles, it can cause headaches, it can cause actual damage and deterioration of the joint, joint noises. It can cause ear pain. It very, very typically causes tooth wear, breaking of teeth, tooth loss, root canals.
There’s so many things that can be traced back this system being out of whack or out of order. And so, that’s the basic idea of how we treat this. So, if you’re suffering from headaches, clenching your teeth, a history of broken teeth, multiple root canals, worn teeth. Sometimes there is like a ringing in the ear or a fullness in the ear can be one of the symptoms as well.
A lot of times there’s neck pain associated, like neck and TMJ pain very much go hand in hand. A lot of times a history of a car accident or whiplash injuries almost always affect the TMJ to some extent.
So, those are some ways that it shows up, but one of the first things that we want to do is evaluate that system, and here we can take a look at it again. We want to know when the joints are in place, are the teeth in alignment?
And another tool we use to figure that out is we have something called an articulator, so we could actually build a replica of how your jaw works, and we can see okay, what are your joints and teeth doing? Are they in harmony? Are they out of harmony? We can start to see wear patterns on the teeth and kind of do the detective work to figure out what’s the root cause of the problem?
So essentially, what the fix is is there’s techniques where we can get the system back in harmony, and the sooner that we do that when there’s signs of a problem, the sooner that we can do it, the more effective, easier, less expensive the solutions are. So anyway, that’s a little bit about TMJ. If you were late to any of these things, come see me and we can talk about it more in detail.