Dr Stéfan Bester’s
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a rotating and sliding hinge which connects the lower jawbone to the skull. This joint is present on each side of the jaw. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction may cause muscle and TMJ pain. You may also experience a tight, dull aching headache which can be only on one side or both sides.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can cause symptoms like painful or tender jaw, aching pain in and around your ear and aching facial pain. You may also experience a clicking sound or a grating sensation when you are chewing or opening your mouth. The cause of TMJ dysfunction is multi-factorial; however, it can be caused by a combination of factors like genetics, occlusal or bite problems, arthritis, tumours or an injury to the jaw. Seek prosthodontic attention if you are experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw.
The comprehensive dental examination will include an extensive clinical joint and muscle assessment which can also include a CT- scan analysis or MRI analysis if indicated by the prosthodontist. The temporomandibular joints are complex joints that are joined together by the lower jaw and the skull. Balance and alignment between the TM joints and the teeth and associated muscles are important for a happy, functional chewing and speaking process. The wear that may occur on the teeth or joints can affect the balance and alignment between the teeth and temporomandibular joints which may result in muscle pain and possibly joint pain and toothache.
Bruxism (clenching and grinding) is often one of the causes of muscle and jaw joint pain. Treatment of headaches and TMJ joint and muscle pain might include very conservative treatment such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, bite plates, occlusal appliances combined with patient educations/counselling and regular follow up treatment and might include more extensive partial or full occlusal reconstructions in severe cases if indicated by the prosthodontist. When conservative treatment has failed to treat the problem, Dr Bester may recommend other procedures such as injections, surgery and jaw joint replacements in advanced cases to help treat the problem.