TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. TMD stands for tempromandibular disease.
Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. It is very similar to other joints of the such as the knees or elbows.
Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). But you may hear it wrongly called TMJ, after the joint.
What Causes TMD?
We are not sure what causes TMD. Dentists believe symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck — like from a heavy blow or whiplash — can lead to TMD. Other causes include:
- Grinding or clenching your teeth , which puts a lot of pressure on the joint
- Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
- Arthritis in the joint
- Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
- Even ones posture can contribute to TMD
What Are the Symptoms?
TMD often causes severe pain and discomfort. It can be temporary or last many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face. More women than men have it, and it’s most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
- Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
- A tired feeling in your face
- Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite — as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of your face
The simplest most common treatment is to get a mouthguard or occlusal splint such as an NTI-TSS
The NTI TSS (Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition Tension Suppression System) is a small plastic device that is originally designed to prevent headache and migraine caused by teeth clenching and grinding. The objective of the NTI is to relax the muscles involved in clenching and teeth grinding.
The NTI TSS device is an anterior bite stop, worn over the two front teeth at night to prevent contact of the canines and molars. It is fitted by a dentist trained in the technique, who can quickly customize such a device for a patient’s mouth.
The NTI TSS decreases the strength of tooth clenching by triggering a nerve reflex that relaxes the muscles, and at the same time prevents the molars from touching. It aids the user in stopping unconscious forceful clenching and biting, preventing common consequences such as worm out teeth, jaw pain and inflammation and tension headaches.