Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are located on either side of your face, right in front of your ears. These joints are very small and highly complex.
They connect the jawbone and skull, allowing you to open and close your mouth, chew, swallow and speak. When you stop and think about it, these joints are very important.
If TMJs stop working properly, you may experience:
- Dislocated or locked jaw
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Cracking or grinding when you chew or yawn
- Pain in your neck or shoulders
- Pain in your face or tinnitus (constant high pitch in the ear).
- Other causes
What causes TMJ problems?
A number of issues could be behind your TMJ problems, from a jaw injury to diseased joints. Stress, fatigue and bad habits such as biting pencils can also trigger TMJ problems.
Malocclusion can cause your jaw to shift. Misaligned teeth lead to poor jaw muscle function. This in turn results in a lack of synchronization in the two joints and their movements become unbalanced.
Grinding your teeth can also make TMJ symptoms worse, such as facial tension.
But the good news is that TMJ problems can be treated. Many different options are available, but we usually recommend conservative solutions such as relaxation, physiotherapy, osteopathic treatments and muscle relaxants. Patients who grind their teeth may be prescribed a bite plate (nightguard). As a last resort, there’s surgery.
If your jaw hurts, choose softer foods, take smaller bites and refrain from chewing gum. You should also schedule an appointment so that we can assess the situation right away.
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