The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the articulation of the round condyles of the mandible (jaw bone) and the mandibular fossa (shallow depressions) of the skull. Each side of the TMJ contains a disc similar to those in our spine. The discs are elliptical and concave on both sides to provide smooth motion of the joints. They are commonly injured in this disorder. The TMJ is controlled by muscles called the masseter which closes the mouth and jaw as well as bringing it forwards and backwards, temporalis which closes and brings the mouth and jaw backwards, medial pterygoid which closes the jaw and mouth as well as bringing it forwards and side to side and the lateral pterygoid which opens the jaw and mouth and brings it side to side. Causes of TMJ include arthritis of the joint, misalignment of the teeth and jaw, teeth grinding, trauma to the jaw, whiplash, poor posture and excessive gum chewing. Symptoms of TMJ are clicking or popping of the jaw, earaches, headaches, pain in the face, ear, jaw or mouth, limitation of jaw motion, pain in the neck or shoulders and painful chewing. A thorough dental exam is recommended. There also seems to be a close link between the cervical spine (neck) and the TMJ. In one study, 88% of patients with TMJ complained of neck pain. The chiropractic approach is evaluation of the upper cervical (neck) and occiput (base of skull) region for subluxations, muscle examination for trigger points especially the lateral pterygoid and masseter, evaluation of proper TMJ motion and postural examination.
Nail biting, gum chewing and smoking can all contribute to TMJ. Geez..what vices do we have left.