Did you know you have a hinge in your mouth? You do. It’s a sliding hinge at that. You have two of them. They are our temporomandibular joints - one in between your upper and lower sets of teeth. The joint, called the TMJ, connect your upper and lower jaws. The joint is unique in your body. There are three parts to your TMJ. If one of them isn’t working right, you could have trouble. If your TMJ isn’t working correctly, you could have problems opening and closing your mouth. You may find it hard to chew. You could even hear popping or cracking noises while you chew. Are you not sure how to take the best care of your jaw joint? Let Spektor Dental give you more information about TMJ and TMD.
Your temporomandibular joints are located close to the base of your skull. They are right in front of your ears. Your upper and lower jaws connect with the joint. The lower jaw (mandible) has an extension that fits into a slot in the skull, and a piece of cartilage sits between the two bones. Without that disk, these two bones could not slide up against each other. Also, there are head and neck ligaments that attach here as well as muscles. For that reason, the jaw joint is really important to your chewing and speaking motions. If you think about it, your jaw joint moves backward and forward as well as side to side. It allows you to yawn hugely, sing at the top of your lungs, and eat a giant sub sandwich. Your TMJ is very important.
When TMJ and TMD Meet Up
Your jaw joint may seem indestructible, but in fact, it isn’t. You can fracture your joint, although unless you have an accident or an injury, it usually doesn’t happen. However, there is a way that you can cause problems for your jaw. You can displace the disk of cartilage that lies between the bones of your jaw. If that happens, this causes pain and swelling.
When you have pain and swelling in your TMJ, it causes a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). When you have TMD, you may have trouble chewing or speaking. You could have headaches. You could also have pain in your neck and face.
What to Do
There are times when TMD will clear up on its own with some anti-inflammatory medication. You also could apply ice to your joint to ease the swelling. Be sure that you are not doing anything that would make your jaw joint swollen. If you clench or grind your teeth at night, you need to think about getting a mouthguard to wear. This will not only save your teeth, but it will prevent TMD in the long run.
Do you have questions about TMJ or TMD? Are you concerned that you have pain in your TMJ or your jaw? If you are worried about the pain in your jaw, give Spektor Dental a call at (425) 247-3629. We can help you with your joint problems, and give you solutions for your jaw pain.