The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the base of your skull. Problems with this joint can lead to pain, chronic headaches and neck, back and shoulder pain. For some people they will also experience pain when opening the jaw, which can be associated with clicking, popping and sometimes even locking of the joint. Most TMJ problems are caused by grinding and clenching of the teeth particularly when we sleep. It is now recognised that in 70% of cases clenching or grinding is related to “sleep disordered breathing“, which covers a whole range of conditions during sleep, that means when you are asleep your airway is constricted or blocked and you are not getting enough oxygen, your body is not recovering as it should.
Other symptoms of TMJ problems can be ringing in the ears, loose teeth, worn chipped or cracked teeth and fillings, pain and sensitivity in the teeth, crowded teeth, difficulty opening the mouth, loss of chewing efficiency and even difficulty swallowing.
The objective of treatment is to reduce the damaging effects of night grinding and clenching on the muscles of the head, neck and jaws, to support the jaw in a more balanced position, eliminate chronic pain and aid in more restful and regenerative sleep whilst at the same time helping improve your energy levels and general health. There are several options for treatment, and this will be discussed at your examination appointment.