The Temporo-Mandibular Joint is the joint that connects the mandible, or the lower jaw, to the temporal bone. This joint is highly significant in the field of dentistry as it facilitates all movements of the jaw, allowing an individual to speak, smile, and masticate properly. It is, therefore, the responsibility of dentists and maxillofacial surgeons to ensure optimal functionality of the TMJ.

The TMJ is a modified hinge joint that connects the mandibular fossa of the temporal bone to the condylar process of the mandible. When these two components function together in harmony, the lower jaw can move up, down, and sideways. Any abnormalities or injuries affecting the joint can restrict some or all of these movements, in addition to causing pain, discomfort, swelling, and limited mouth opening. These abnormalities are collectively referred to as Temporo-Mandibular Disorder, or TMD.

Some of the most common causes of temporo-mandibular joint disorder include:

  • Bruxism, or night-time teeth grinding
  • Direct blow or trauma to the joint
  • Clenching of the jaw due to stress
  • Keeping the mouth open for a prolonged duration of time
  • Whiplash
  • Conditions affecting the bones and joint of the body, such as arthritis

Symptoms that indicate TMD include tenderness around the joint region, pain on opening or closing of the mouth, swelling, discomfort, restricted mouth opening, and clicking or popping sounds on producing joint movements. Apart from taking complete pain history, a dentist may also advise radiographs to chart a diagnosis followed by a treatment plan for the condition. Based on the cause and severity of the disorder, the treatment can either be entirely medical, involving analgesic and muscle relaxant therapy, or operative, involving dental work to correct the root cause of the issue.

Are you experiencing symptoms that may indicate TMD? Book an appointment with the team at Oral Surgery Specialists of Austin for the most effective treatments today!

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