TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)

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Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the base of the scull, may be one of the reasons an estimated 50 million people suffer from chronic headaches, earaches, and facial pain. No other joints are subject to such a precise functioning as that involved in the meeting and biting of the teeth.

Symptoms frequently associated with this problem are popping, clicking or grinding noises of the jaw joints when eating or opening the mouth, soreness and limitation of opening the mouth, stiffness of the neck and shoulders, and ringing of the ears. The bizarre and seemingly unrelated combination of symptoms makes diagnosis difficult for both the medical and dental practitioners since many other diseases may cause similar symptoms.

TMJ disorders may have a variety of causes. An imbalance resulting from improper jaw development, loss and/or misalignment of teeth, a blow or trauma to the face, and emotional stress or tension, which may cause an increase in clenching and grinding of the teeth, are a few of many contributing factors.

Since multiple causes are frequently involved, treatment of TMJ disorders may include a variety of procedures performed by the orthodontist and/or other health professionals. Although the diagnosis may be initiated by a dentist in general practice or by a specialist in orthodontics, if the symptoms are not solely related to jaw function, other conditions may need to be identified by a physician or psychologist.

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