The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of the head, your TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth or chewing
- A tired feeling in the face
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of the face
In some cases, Dr. Gavin or Dr. Pendleton may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. At Valley Dental we will suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the cause and your needs. If you feel that you have any of the symptoms of TMJ please call our office at 608-781-3999 to schedule an appointment.