People can experience problems with their jaws such as "popping noises", pain while opening their mouth, difficulty chewing, pain or tenderness in their face and more. The dentist can also help you with these problems. When addressing this area, dentists use a number of medical terms. These are:
Temporomandibular - this word comes from Latin tempor- which means temple (the flattened region on each side of the forehead) and the word mandible which comes from the Latin word mandibula - jaw. Simply stated it describes two areas at the side of the head - the temple and the jaw. Where these two areas meet there is a joint.
TMJ (Temporommandibular Joint) - is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head.
TMD Temporomandibular Disorders - occur as a result of problems with the jaw, the jaw joint and surrounding facials muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw.
The cause of TMD is not totally clear. It is thought that many of the symptoms of pain and discomfort are caused by the muscles of jaw or the jaw joint itself. These areas can be affected by:
l An injury or blow to the jaw, or to muscles of the neck or head
l Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
l Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
l Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
l Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the "hinge" of the jaw. Possible problems can include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMD.
For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouth guard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.
Irina Rodriguez, D.D.S.
(Serving Ojai, Lake Casitas, Santa Paula, Oxnard, Ventura, Carpinteria)
117 Pirie Rd., Suite A
Ojai, CA 93023
Phone: (805) 646-3700 Emergency: (805) 415-4478