TMJ is a popular term to describe a disorder of the jaw joints or the muscles that control the joints. Muscle spasms go hand-in-hand with displaced jaw joints. Because the nerves and muscles are so complex, people suffer from a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Pain behind the eyes
- Earaches or ringing of the ears
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Neck, shoulder, or back pain
- Numbness or tingling of the fingers
Often, when your upper and lower teeth do not come together in a way that provides the proper bracing support for your jaw against your skull, you experience the symptoms of TMJ. Since your upper and lower teeth must come together firmly each time you swallow, when your bite is unstable your muscles must work extra hard. Eventually this strain makes them feel painful.
When this condition is prolonged, your body will begin to compensate and adapt by involving muscles in the neck, back, and even sometimes those of the arms, fingers, pelvis, legs, and feet.
The first goal is to relieve the muscle spasm and pain. Then, Dr. Geare must correct the way your teeth fit together. Often a temporary device, called an orthotic, is worn over your teeth until the bite is stabilized.
Permanent correction may involve selective re-shaping of the teeth, building crowns on the teeth, orthodontics, or a permanent appliance. Though infrequent, surgery is sometimes required to correct a damaged joint. Ultimately, Dr. Geare will stabilize your bite so that the teeth, muscles, and joints all work together without strain.