40% of the population suffers from jaw joint problems at some point in time.
Problems can range from a occasional jaw joint clicking through to severe facial muscle pain and jaw “locking”.
What causes jaw joint problems?
The majority of problems are lumped together as a condition called “TMD” which stands for Temporomandibular Dysfunction.
(The medical term for the jaw joint is the temporomandibular joint or TMJ).
TMD includes one or more of the following symptoms: pain around the jaw joint, clicking of the joints, grinding sounds from the joints, limited jaw opening and facial muscle pain.
It can be difficult to pin-point the exact the cause of TMD but there is a strong association with stress-induced tooth grinding (bruxism) and clenching.
The “click’ from a jaw joint is due to a problem with the small disc of soft tissue called the meniscus which should stay over the head of the joint during jaw opening and closing. The disc slides off the head of the joint and then flips back on suddenly… which is what causes the “click”.
People who suffer from TMD may also suffer from back pain, headaches and migraine.
What treatments are available?
The majority of cases (up to 80%) can be managed by the dental team with a simple series of measures which may include the following:
- Advice regarding simple jaw exercises
- Joint care tips, such as chewing slowly and avoiding certain food types
- Simple pain relief
- Soft or hard mouth guard (called a splint) to be worn at evenings and night times
Your dentist may also ask about any sources of stress that you may have as this has a strong association with TMD symptoms.
Sometimes TMD can come and go for some patients… and it may be a case of managing the symptoms accordingly.
If the above measures are ineffective, your dentist may refer for a specialist opinion e.g. to an oral surgeon for further investigation of the jaw joint.
About Cleveland Orthodontics
Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.
We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.