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What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?

The TMJ is the hinge that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head.

The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling you to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw. The two main muscles of mastication (chewing) are the Masseter and Temporalis.

What is Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)/ Bruxism and what are the causes?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a complex and poorly understood set of conditions characterized by pain and dysfunction as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and/or surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and jaw movements.

TMDss result in a large range of symptoms that vary for each individual and can include;

  • significant face and neck pain
  • damaged teeth and tooth pain
  • stiff jaw muscles
  • limited mouth opening
  • ear pain and ringing in the ears
  • painful clicking
  • popping or grafting in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth

Bruxism is the term used to describe teeth grinding, which is a type of TMD.

TMD/Bruxism can be caused by several things and often an individual’s condition has multiple contributing factors.

How can TMD/Bruxism be treated?
There are several options to consider for the treatment of your TMD/Bruxism and these should be discussed in consultation with the dentist. Available treatment options address different aspects of the condition depending on the cause and they vary in cost, complexity and the expected results, including how long results last and the potential complications.
Current treatment options include;

Dentists strongly recommend using the most conservative, reversible treatment possible so as not to further contribute to the problem.


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