TMJ Disorder: What is That?

There are lots of abbreviations in the world today. Some are funny: LOL. Some are more serious, like TMJ disorder. Your TMJs are your temporomandibular joints: the highly mobile joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull. The TMJs, and the muscles around them must perform many functions. They allow the jaw to open, close, apply pressure, and move side to side hundreds of times a day. When things go wrong, TMJ disorders can result in pain, discomfort, and perhaps more serious issues. Your dentist can help diagnose and treat TMJ disorders, when they occur.

TMJ Disorders and the Muscles

Just as a the larger muscles in your body can get aches and pains from stress, overuse or injury, the muscles around your TMJs can cause you pain. Surprisingly, the pain doesn’t always center in your jaw. TMJ disorders can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and even pain in the back and ears. Once the underlying issues with the TMJ are addressed, the associated pain will be relieved.

TMJ Disorders and Malocclusion

Malocclusion (which is a dental term for teeth that don’t meet properly when the jaw is closed) can have wide reaching effects. In some cases, it may be a cosmetic issue, affecting only the appearance of your smile. In most cases, malocclusion also affects the function of the teeth and jaw. Eating may be more challenging, speech may not be as clear, and the unequal stresses on the TMJ joints can cause disorder in that area.

TMJ Disorders and Aging

Arthritis and inflammation can affect the TMJ area, just as they do other joints within the body. Cartilage may become worn with use and time. Changes in posture can affect stress on the jaw. Discomfort can arise due to rheumatic diseases at any age.

Your Dentist Can Help with TMJ Disorders

If you have unexplained headaches, jaw pain, shoulder or neck pain you may have disorders in one or both TMJs. Residents of Kansas City, Prairie Village and surrounding communities can learn more or schedule a visit with Dr. Browne, by contacting our office today at (913) 901-8585.