You have a true miracle in your mouth right now. It’s a hinge that is on both the left and the right side of your mouth. Unlike most hinges, your hinges slide, which is nothing short of amazing. Your hinges are called temporomandibular joints (TMJ), and they are located between your two sets of teeth in your upper and lower jaws. They are unlike any other joint in your body. Each jaw joint has three parts to it. If any of the parts of your TMJ aren’t working right, it could lead to real problems for your mouth.
You may have trouble even opening and closing your mouth. You might find it hard to chew. You might notice popping or cracking when you chew, as well. Do you know what to do if you have problems with your TMJ? Let Queen Anne Family Dental tell you more about your TMJ, and what happens when you have TMD.
You can find your jaw joints on either side of your head near the base of your skull, in front of your ears. The temporomandibular joint connects your upper and lower jaws. The lower jaw, which is called the mandible, has a small extension that fits perfectly into a slot in the skull. A disk of cartilage acts as a cushion between the two bones. The disc allows the bones to move past each other easily. Head and neck ligaments attach close to your jaw joint, and so do muscles you need to speak and move your jaw. Your jaw joint is very important for speaking, chewing, laughing, singing - any movement you need to do with your mouth. The TMJ allows you to move your jaw from side to side as well as forwards and backwards.
What Is TMD?
Although you might not think about it, it is possible to have serious issues with your jaw. Ordinarily, you can go through life, chewing, and eating and speaking without worrying about your jaw. However, if the disk between the bones in your jaw joint swells, gets displaced, or gets inflamed, you can experience pain, swelling, and inflammation. This condition is called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD may make it really hard to speak or chew your food. The disorder may give you serious headaches, as well as facial pain and neck pain. There are times you might find it impossible to open or close your mouth.
What Should I Do?
If you are lucky, your TMD may clear up with anti-inflammatory medication. The medication is supposed to ease the inflammation in your jaw. Ice applied to your jaw sometimes helps as well. Talk to us about bruxism and whether or not you have it. Bruxism is clenching or grinding your teeth at night. Not only can it damage your teeth, but it can also cause TMD. We can make you night guards to wear to help you, which should also help your TMD. If you have questions about your TMJ or you are worried you have TMD, give Queen Anne Family Dental a call at (206) 424-4450 to schedule along with your regular cleanings.