The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the medical name for the jaw joint. It is also the expression commonly used to describe painful conditions involving the jaw.
Your jaw joints are part of the craniomandibular system, a system that allows your mouth to function so you can eat, speak and breath normally. The system includes your teeth, your neck, jaw muscles and soft tissues like ligaments and cartilage.
Problems with your jaw joint and the system of muscles, ligaments and cartilage that enable it to function properly can result in joint noises, limited opening, locking, headaches, jaw pain, facial pain and ear pain.
The healthy function of your jaw is affected by many factors; one is your jaw muscles. Overuse of those muscles by habitual clenching or grinding or other oral habits can damage both your jaw joint and your teeth resulting in both joint problems and teeth problems.
Besides the muscles,ligaments and cartilage, your tooth position can affect your jaw health as your tooth position determines your jaw position. If your teeth are badly worn down or misaligned, the resulting jaw position can be associated with higher risks for TMJ symptoms.
If you are suffering from sensitive teeth or headaches, particularly in the morning, you should consider nighttime clenching or grinding as a cause.
How do I know if I have a TMJ issue?
If you suffer from headaches, pain in your jaws and/or your jaw makes noise when you open or close, like clicking, popping or grating sounds you may have a problem with your craniomandibular system.
This link provides a simple home test for TMJ and the second link provides a good review on night time grinding.
We are here to help and to work with you if you think you are suffering from TMJ problems please contact our office as we may be able to help.
A night guard is a custom appliance fabricated to protect your teeth from sleep grinding that can have lasting destructive affects on your teeth.