Do you experience headaches, ear clicking, popping, ringing or pressure, dizziness, jaw pain, jaw locking, limited opening or movement of the jaw, clenching, grinding, broken or worn teeth? You may be one of the 60 million North Americans affected by Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). A recent study revealed that 53% of people with TMD suffered some level of depression, while 22% had symptoms of fatigue and/or insomnia due to disrupted sleep patterns.

What and where are the TMJ’s?

The Temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s) are located on each side of the face near the ears where the lower jawbone (mandible) joins the temporal bone of your skull. These are the only joints in the body that are required to operate simultaneously. Like every joint, they are a ball and socket joint. The ball is the part of the lower jaw and the socket is part of the skull. The lower jaw is connected to your skull by muscles, and the blood supply and nerves are located at the back of each socket. For this system of joints and nerves to be healthy and painless, the ball needs to be located in the centre of the socket.

What is TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) and what causes it?

TMD is not one disorder, but a group of conditions, often painful, that occur when chewing muscles and jaw joints do not work together correctly. The most common cause of jaw related problems is a bad (misaligned) bite. That being said, TMD may also be caused by pain somewhere else in your body. For example, you may have pain in your hip causing you to subconsciously clench your teeth and disrupt the alignment of your teeth. This clenching results in jaw pain (TMD). Your jaw pain (TMD) is now secondary pain. If your jaw pain is treated with some level of relief but the primary cause (the hip) is not addressed, the jaw pain can, and probably will, return. Your teeth must meet over 2000 times a day/ night. If your bite is unbalanced due to misaligned teeth, we also know that the jaw joints (TMJ’s – Temporomandibular Joints) are out of alignment usually due to the lower jaw being pushed back (retrognathic position). As a result, the muscles are stretched and must work harder as they attempt to compensate for these misalignments. The blood supply and nerves are now feeling the pressure at the back of the socket, and this muscle tension becomes pain spreading around your ears to your head, neck, shoulders and back. This Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.

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