The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMD, occurs when there are problems with the muscles and jaws in the face.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located just in front of the lower part of the ear. This joint allows the lower jaw to move. It is a ball-and-socket joint, just like the hip or shoulder. When the mouth opens wide, the ball (called the condyle) comes out of the socket and moves forward. It goes back into place when the mouth closes.
The TMJ becomes dislocated when the condyle moves too far. Then, it can get stuck in front of a section of bone called the articular eminence. The condyle cannot move back into place. This happens most often when the ligaments that normally keep the condyle in place are somewhat loose. The surrounding muscles often go into spasm and hold the condyle in the dislocated position.
The jaw locks in an open position and you cannot close your mouth. You may have discomfort until the joint returns to the proper position.
At the Surbiton Smile Centre we will base our diagnosis on the position of your jaw and whether you are able to close your mouth. X-rays will confirm our clinical diagnosis.
The problem remains until the joint is moved back into place. However, the area can be tender for up to a few weeks.
TMJ dislocation can continue to happen in people with loose TMJ ligaments. To keep this from happening too often, we will recommend that you limit the range of motion of your jaws. For example, if you have this problem you should place a fist under your chin when yawning in order to stop your mouth from opening too widely.
Conservative surgical treatments can help to prevent the problem from returning. Some people have their jaws wired shut for a period of time. This causes the ligaments to get tighter and restricts their movement.
In certain cases, surgery may be necessary. One procedure is called an Eminectomy. It removes the articular eminence so the ball of the joint no longer gets stuck in front of it.
The muscles around the TMJ need to relax so that the condyle can return to its normal position. To make this happen, some people need an injection of local anaesthetic in the jaw joint. This may be followed by a muscle relaxant to stop the spasms. The muscle relaxant is given intravenously (into a vein in the arm).
If the jaw muscles are relaxed enough, a doctor or dentist can move the condyle back into the correct position. He or she will pull the lower jaw downward and tip the chin upward to free the condyle. Then the ball is guided back into the socket.
Rarely, someone may need to have the dislocation fixed in the operating room under a general anaesthetic. In this case, it may be necessary to wire the jaws shut or use elastics between the top and bottom teeth to limit the movement of the jaw after the dislocation has been fixed.
You should follow a soft or liquid diet for several weeks afterward. This reduces jaw movement and stress. Avoid foods that are hard to chew, such as tough meats, carrots, hard biscuits or ice cubes. Also, be careful not to open your mouth too wide.
If your TMJ becomes dislocated, visit your doctor, the Surbiton Smile Centre or hospital emergency room right away to have the joint put back in place. You may be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment.
The outlook is excellent for returning the dislocated ball of the joint to the socket. However, in some people, the joint may continue to become dislocated. If this happens, you may need surgery.
TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, means that the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw is not working properly. This hinge is one of the most complex joints in the body, responsible for moving the lower jaw forward, backward and side-to-side. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working will feel like your jaw is popping or clicking or even “getting stuck” for a moment.
The exact cause of a person’s TMD is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth (Bruxism see our website for further information), although it must be said that many people habitually clench or grind their teeth, but never develop TMD.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMD is temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Surgery is typically a last resort after conservative measures have failed, but some people with TMD may benefit from surgical treatments.
While there is no single cure for TMD, there are different treatments you can follow that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. At the Surbiton Smile Centre, we may recommend one or more of the following:
There are many sign and symptoms of TMD. It is hard to know for sure if you have a relevant one,as one or all of these symptoms can also be present for other problems.
At the Surbiton Smile Centre, we can help make a proper diagnosis by taking a complete medical and dental history and performing a detailed investigation with the use of associated X-rays.
TMD can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there is no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably do not need treatment for a TMJ disorder.
The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth.
Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders are not clear.
At the Surbiton Smile Centre our dental staff will carry out a proper and thorough medical and dental examination and may take certain X-rays (panoramic) to evaluate the jaw joint and surrounding structure and also check your occlusion. Our Dentist may check the muscles and tissues of your head and neck to test for inflammation. Certain exercises and movements may be involved, and you may get a referral to an oral maxillofacial surgeon or further evaluation and diagnosis.
While there is no single cure for TMD, there are different treatments that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Our Dentist may recommend one or more of the following:
A: First, stand in front of a mirror:
B: Other remedial actions:
Try and develop an awareness of your tension-related habits. For example, clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth or chewing pencils. This will help you reduce the frequency of these habits.
You should seek medical attention if you have persistent:
Factors that may increase the risk of developing TMJ disorders include:
Please get in touch if you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health. We will treat you fairly and honestly - and we look forward to being able to help you.