What is it?

Most people refer to pain in their jaw as TMJ. They’ll say, “I have TMJ”, which is a lot like having knee pain, and saying … “I have knee”.
T M J are the initials for the anatomical name for the joint (Temporal Mandibular Joint). When we have pain in that region or in the joint, it can be from many different reasons. We’ll usually refer to the general pain or improper movement as TMJ-D (Temporal Mandibular Joint – Dysfunction).

Just like the knees we have two. Our Temporal Mandibular Joints are on each side of our face. Both of the TMJ combine 2 different joints (hinged and sliding) into one. Needless to say, it’s a complex joint that only moves well when it’s seated well. The tissues and teeth that associate with the joint also need to be healthy and in good alignment.

What causes TMJ-D?

Some of the possible causes for TMJ-D / jaw pain:

  • Trauma to the TMJ. This can include being hit in the jaw. Motor vehicle accidents (especially side impacted accidents). Sports injuries to the jaw. Boxing or fighting injuries to the jaw.
  • Improper sleeping positions (sleeping with your hand under your jaw).
  • Improper fitting dental appliances or dental work that doesn’t align properly.
  • Grinding of the teeth (especially grinding from side to side).
  • History of wearing braces with rubber bands that try to accommodate for an under or over bite.
  • Excessive gum chewing.
  • Chewing only on one side of your mouth.
  • Subluxation of one or both of the TMJ(s). This is caused by weakness in the connective tissues that hold the joint united and aligned well. Creating pain, misalignment, swelling of the connective tissues, and spasming of the muscles that move the jaw.

How do I know if I have TMJ-D?

Chances are if your reading this you fairly certain that you do, and your probably correct. Dr. Staub has a saying, that the patients know their bodies best, and the a good doctor takes the time to listen to their symptoms in order to formulate a good diagnosis. Because of this he’ll take a good amount of time the first day listening to you and performing a detailed exam and possibly X-rays if warranted. This is the foundation of a good recovery.

Once we have determined your cause of jaw pain, we’ll cover the diagnosis and possible aggravating causes.

Following the exam and report of findings is usually a short series of painless adjustments to one or both Temporal Mandibular Joints coupled soft tissue work and home instruction. The purpose of the adjustments is to create a better alignment and tracking / motion of the Temporal Mandibular Joints.

In some cases a bite guard or dental referral is also warranted.

Some of the possible symptoms of TMJ-D are:

    • Pain in the jaw
    • Clicking in the jaw
    • Difficulty opening the mouth
    • Difficulty in clenching the teeth together
    • Locking or ratcheting of the jaw
    • Headaches (TMJ-D is a common cause of headaches) usually coupled with any one or more of the above symptoms

Don’t wait TMJ-D is a sign of joint instability. Joint instabilities that are left unchecked for a period of time become more prone to degenerative changes to the articular cartilage (called meniscus) and or arthritis of the the TMJ. These are more serious permanent degenerative conditions of the jaw that are harder to get relief from.

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… Or call 480.990.2663