Temporomandibular Joint Disorders – (TMD, TMJ)
Millions of Americans suffer from TMJ and craniofacial disorders. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint that connects the lower jawbone to the skull. The human TMJ’s and jaw is essentially a lever system, complex in structure. Unfortunately this system is not ideal in design, often inefficient and subject to problems. TMJ disorder management is included in the larger group of managing Craniofacial Pain disorders, extending not only to the jaw, but the greater head, neck, shoulder and back structures that are neurologically linked to the jaw, but can present as facial pain.
In these circumstances, the TMJ and muscles have to work harder to bring teeth together in order to function properly. There is also a tendency for excessive subconscious clenching and/or grinding during the day and night while trying to find balance in the bite. As a result, teeth wear down and can fracture, the TMJ joints can slowly degenerate and surrounding muscles become strained and fatigued. Signs of a TMJ disorder can include popping and clicking in the jaw joints, limited opening with pain, and narrow jaws and crowded teeth.