The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the sliding hinges that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bones of your skull, which are located in front of each ear. These joints enable the jaw to move side-to-side, up and down, and forward and back, allowing you to make movements such as eating, speaking, yawning, and laughing. TMJs are among the most used joints in the body.
Although "TMJ" actually refers to the joint, the term is often loosely used to indicate temporomandibular disorders (TMD), an umbrella term for dysfunction of jaw joints or pain in the jaw, face, head, and neck. Although numerous factors can cause TMD, most cases originate from problems with the joints or muscles. Missing teeth, malocclusion, arthritis, trauma, clenching and grinding of the teeth (bruxism), and even excessive gum chewing, are common causes of TMJ-related pain. Some of the most frequent symptoms of TMJ disorder are:
- Tenderness or pain in your jaw joint, face, around your ears, neck, or shoulders when you speak, chew, or yawn
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Jaws "locking" or getting "stuck"
- Grating, popping, or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Facial fatigue
- Uncomfortable bite or trouble chewing
- Chronic headaches or migraines
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, visit Dr. Charles Martin at Richmond Smile Center. His extensive knowledge of the oral anatomy makes him especially adept in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. His skill and experience have helped many patients find relief from this uncomfortable condition.
After a thorough examination and evaluation, the doctor may recommend some simple lifestyle changes such as paying attention to your reaction to tension. If you tend to chew your fingernails, bite on pencils, grind your teeth, or clench your jaw when stressed, you could be irritating your TMJ. Avoiding these habits may alleviate your pain. Additionally, moist heat or ice packs may relieve the discomfort. He might also suggest eating soft foods for a few days, and avoiding chewing gum. Sometimes, simple changes are all that is needed to resolve your pain.
The doctor also provides a number of therapies as well as oral appliances to treat TMJ disorder. Each case is unique and he will customize your treatment plan to stop your pain and have you smiling happily once again. Don't let the pain gnaw at you; Dr. Martin can help. Use the convenient form at the side of this page, or call 804.417.7203 today and schedule your appointment.
Back to TMJ Home Page