The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. TMJ pain can occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw.
Causes of TMJ pain:
- injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck – such as from a heavy blow or whiplash
- grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.
We can assess your temporomandibular joint and musculature and determine the best course of treatment which may range from anti-inflammatories and heat packs to physiotherapy, acupuncture or fabrication of a dental splint. Each treatment option has its benefits and will depend on the cause and duration of your discomfort. If you have been grinding or clenching this may not only cause pain but it can cause wear on the biting surfaces of your teeth, shortening of the teeth and cracks. This should be treated as soon as possible to prevent long term damage that is difficult to repair.