The temporomandibular joint is more commonly referred to as the TMJ. It is constructed to work much like your hip or shoulder joint but it is located in front of your earlobe and allows for movement of the jaw as you open and close your mouth. The TMJ can become dislocated over time especially if you have been in the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, or it can be the result of trauma. A misalignment of the bite is a common cause of TMD – Temporal Joint Disorder.
When the TMJ disconnects the jaw becomes locked in the open position and the patient won’t be able to close his mouth until the joint is realigned. Obviously this can be a very scary situation particularly if it comes on unexpectedly. The stress that accompanies the symptoms adds to patient discomfort and can bring on other manifestations such as headaches and neck pain.
The first order of treatment is to move the ball of the joint back into its socket to relieve the immediate crises. Once this is done a dentist can conduct an extensive evaluation to determine if the dislocation is likely to recur. An orthodontic exam may be advised or surgery could be indicated.
Neuromuscular dentistry is a specialized field that deals with the correlation between the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. Dr. Looze of Southlands Dental in Aurora is trained in the specialty and welcomes patients who are suffering from a disorder of the TMJ. Call 303-805-8266 for an appointment.