If you are experiencing facial pain, difficulty chewing, or locking of your jaw, you may be experiencing TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. Albuquerque dentist Dr. Tim Kelly is an expert in treating TMJ disorder and uses today's most advanced tools and techniques to help his patients achieve long-term relief.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can affect the function of the entire jaw and lead to symptoms like clenching, grinding, pain, and chronic headaches. Dr. Tim Kelly uses sophisticated imaging technology to properly diagnosis the condition. Once you receive a diagnosis, he can discuss treatment options to restore your proper bite alignment and relieve pressure on your jaw joints.
TMJ is an acronym for “Temporalmandibular joint.” This joint is located just in front of the ears on either side of your head. It is composed of the temporal bone on the sides of the skull and the lower jaw, called the mandible. The union of these two structures forms a joint similar to the knee or hip. However the TMJ is quite complicated due to our ability to open wide and move our jaw from right to left as well as forward and back. The most complicated aspect of this joint is that the teeth, when placed together, position the mandible in the temporal bone. Therefore, in a healthy joint, the position of the TMJ’s matches this orthopedic position when the teeth all fit together.
There are numerous causes and symptoms of TMJ disorder. The TMJ is a load bearing joint, and this load is exerted when we chew. The pain arises when there is a discrepancy between where the teeth want to fit together and the ideal orthopedic position of the mandible. It is this precise reason that a muscular response in the form of tension starts. The chronic muscle tension causes a variety of problems: pain, headaches, and neck/shoulder tension.
Many TMJ sufferers clench or grind their teeth at night, and this reaction is a result of the brain and muscles responding to the inaccurate position of the mandible. A joint (any joint) will ultimately fail due to the overloading of the structure.
Note that in a healthy TMJ, the condyles (ball of the joint) are seated in the socket and are round in shape. On the right you will see a healthy condyle, and the left condyle has changed due to osteoarthritis breakdown. This type of breakdown is due to chronic overloading from an inaccurate bite. As you can imagine this condition is quite painful.
Associated dental history:
Symptoms (painful events):