The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull. It’s the most frequently used joint in the body. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. Disorders of the TMJ (TMD) can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.
The exact cause of TMD isn’t always possible to diagnose. It can have a genetic origin or may be caused by arthritis or injury to your jaw. Some people tend to clench or grind their teeth, although many people who do this never develop TMD.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ/TMD
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw and temporomandibular joints
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Aching pain in and around the ears
- Click or grating noises and sensation in the jaw
Lompoc Family Dental’s Approach to TMJ/TMD Treatment
Dr. Dudley has studied occlusion and TMD at the Kois Center in Seattle, WA to learn about the relationship between your teeth, jaws, and skull. His approach is called centric relation. He can help relieve your symptoms with a variety of gentle, non-invasive techniques. If you also grind your teeth, he may fit you with a mouthguard to wear at night.
Dr. Dudley is especially interested in how things work and fit together, and TMD is one of the disorders where he can apply his own interests and his training. TMD is a disorder often caused when different parts of the jaw aren’t aligned and don’t function at their best, causing pain and soreness that you might not even be aware of. If you chronically grind your teeth as well as clench your jaw, over time this could change the alignment in your jaw.
Careful diagnosis and treatment can make a difference in the function and comfort of your jaw. Ask Dr. Dudley about his approach to TMD.