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TMJ (Jaw Joint Disorders)

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is pain in the jaw joint that can be caused by a variety of medical problems. The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. Certain facial muscles control chewing and problems in this area can cause head and neck pain, facial pain, ear pain, headaches, a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open, problems biting, and jaw clicking or popping sounds when you bite. Dental treatments do not cause TMJ.

TMJ syndrome can be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Disease
  • Wear and tear due to aging
  • Habits such as grinding or clenching the teeth
  • An incorrect bite
  • Stress
  • Nail biting

Common symptoms include noticeable pain when a person is moving his or her jaw, such as when eating, chewing, or yawning. The pain will more frequently be on one side of the jaw, but sometimes will be on both sides and can be gradual or sharp and sudden. A sufferer may also feel soreness or tenderness to the face, which may radiate to other areas including the ears, head, neck and even the shoulders. The strain and discomfort often leads to severe headaches, particularly in children. People of any age and gender may suffer from TMJ.

Dr. Halpin has been treating patients with TMJ issues since 2000. Treatment starts with an orthodontic evaluation to determine if you have TMJ and how it can be remedied.

A night guard made by Dr. Halpin, might be given to the TMJ patient to stabilize the jaw during sleep. These night guards, or splints, are clear plastic devices that would be used to reduce teeth grinding and clenching at night (a condition called bruxism). The splints would help in keeping the jaw’s condition from worsening, relieving pain, and helping a displaced disc to return to normal.