By Natalia Tsar, DDS, LVIF
TMJ, more accurately called TMD, is a cycle of pain, muscle spasms, and jaw joint problems that results when the teeth, chewing muscles, and jaw joints don’t work together harmoniously. The letters “TMD” stand for Temporomandibular Dysfunction. This refers to problems with muscles and joints that join the lower jaw to the base of the skull.
There are many causes of TMD, such as grinding of teeth, an injury, and emotional stress. But a very common cause is a bad bite. A problem bite often exists when teeth are missing, misaligned, or worn down. These conditions can prevent the upper teeth from meshing correctly with the lower teeth, and this forces the jaw to shift position and the muscles to work harder than they should to bring the teeth together.
At right is a signs and symptoms check list that we routinely use with our patients. Use this chart to give yourself a “self-test.” If you have any of these signs or symptoms it would be in your best interest to have your bite evaluated by a specially trained Neuromuscular Dentist. Because the cause of the problem is coming from imbalance of three systems: muscles, teeth and joint, it is necessary to have the right tools to diagnose and treat this condition and be able to track the progress and the changes a patient makes. With the K7 system, a Neuromuscular Dentist is able to get objective data and make much more accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.
Headaches (tension type)
Jaw joint pain
Back, neck, cervical pain
Postural problems (forward head posture)
Pain in the face
Difficulty opening of the mouth (commonly known as “Locked Jaw”)
Pain in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joints
Pain behind the eyes – dagger and ice pick feelings
Multiple bites that feels uncomfortable or, “off,” and continually changing
Teeth that are sensitive to cold
Deviation of the jaw to one side
The jaw locking open or closed
Ringing in the ears, ear pain, and ear congestion
Sinus like symptoms
Dizziness or vertigo
Tingling in fingers and hands
Insomnia – difficulty sleeping
Tsar Dental Excellence