The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint between the lower jaw bone (the mandible) and the temporal bone of the skull, and is responsible for the jaw movements. Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) refers to a group of disorder characterized by pain in the jaw area, and limited movements of the mandible. The problems can be in the joint itself, like arthritis, internal derangements like disc displacement, and trauma in the muscles surrounding the joint.
When the muscles are the cause, the condition is called Myofacial Pain Syndrome.
It is manifested as:
- – in the muscles themselves
- – in areas in front of the ear or the ear itself
- – pain in the gums and teeth.
- Limited movements of the mandible
- Other side effects
- – migraines
- – stiff face
- – neck and shoulder pain.
These temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (known as TMJ disorders) affect around 20-30% of adults (especially women), and their effects can range from mild to debilitating.
What are the causes?
Teeth clenching is one of the main causes of TMJ disorders; this occurs when people hold their upper and lower teeth together with force, which can eventually damage the roots of your teeth, the nerves and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The stress of clenching your jaw can also lead to headaches and painful chewing.The continuous contraction of the muscles cause lack of proper blood supply, resulting in energy shortage and metabolic crisis within their mass, triggering pain in the muscles and the head and neck region.
Night time clenching is a frequent problem and occurs when people subconsciously begin to find the sensation of clenching soothing; this can also lead to night time grinding, when patients clench their jaws, and move the bottom jaw back and forth, grinding away the enamel from their teeth. Unlike clenching, which can be silent, grinding will often produce a sound.
How can TMJ Disorders be treated?
If you think you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, Dr Sofia can perform a thorough evaluation of your teeth, before determining if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder. She will then discuss various treatment options, which includes:
- Nighttime mouth-guards
- Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). A LLLT treatment will help you to relax your muscles, leading to decreased muscle strain and improved jaw function, as well as less frequent headaches and better sleep. LLLT is a drug free treatment option to increase the muscle blood supply and help them recover from ischemia and metabolic stress due to over exercise.
- Botox: Botox injections can be performed on the muscles of mastication. By injecting several units of Botox within special regions, the muscles are weakened enough to relax and recover from spasm, bruxism is stopped and the pain disappears – all without any interference with the proper function of the muscles or the facial expressions. The effects last about 3 months, during which patients are completely pain free and grinding free. As an added bonus, by relaxing the muscles at the corners of the jaw, the face loses the squareness, over bulgy appearance of its contour, achieving a more relaxed look of the angles of the jaw and a more oval, youthful appearance of the jaw line.
- Acupuncture: Dr Sofia mya refer patients to Dr Bahjat who practices acupuncture
Check out our specialist doctor’s profile
Dr. Sofia Aravopoulou
General Dentist and Implantologist
A member of the World Federation of Lasers in Dentistry and the International Society of Laser Dentistry amongst others, Dr Sofia is fast becoming a name-to-know in the world of dentistry. Her mission is simple: to fuse science and art in her pioneering clinic which will ensure her patients’ teeth are healthy and so beautiful that they will always want to smile – and her expertise in Digital Smile Design (DSD) is testament to her ethos.Read more