What is the temporomandibular joint?
The temporomandibular joint is a joint that connects the lower jaw with the skull, allowing the jaw to open and close during eating, making facial expressions and speaking. There are multiple ligaments and muscles surrounding this joint to provide stability and precise control of the jaw during those actions.
What is Temporomandibular disorder?
A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a term that describes all dysfunctions related to the temporomandibular joint and its surrounding structures. This includes inflammation of tissue, degeneration of bony structures or overuse of muscles.
The disorders are treatable but due to the multiple causes and factors associated with the disorder, diagnosis can be difficult. Some of the common factors that increase likeliness of TMD include grinding of the teeth during sleep, stress, poor posture that causes overuse to the muscles, and direct trauma to the joint.
The symptoms associated with the disorder include pain in the muscles and joints of the jaw, stiffness in the jaw when opening the mouth, or clicking and grating during movement. In more severe cases, the jaw may become “stuck” in an open or closed position and would require aid to fix the jaw back in place. Treatments can involve physiotherapy to relieve tension around the joint, strengthening of the muscles surrounding the joint to reduce strain and improve stability, mouth guard to prevent grinding of the teeth, and use of Botox to relax the overactive jaw muscles. In more severe cases of TMD, surgery may be required to realign the jaw.