Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD, TMJ or TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment.

What are TMJ disorders, and how are they caused?

TMJ disorders are a group of complex problems of the jaw joint. TMJ disorders are also sometimes referred to as myofacial pain dysfunction and Costen's syndrome. Because muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws. The following are behaviors or conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders. If you have any of the following habits or symptoms, please call Dr. Ganzkow to make an appointment to find out which appliance, whether it be a splint, nightguard or other dental procedure that may help alleviate your pain.

1. Teeth grinding and teeth clenching (bruxism) increase the wear on the cartilage lining of the TMJ. Those who grind or clench their teeth may be unaware of this behavior unless they are told by someone observing this pattern while sleeping or by a dental professional noticing telltale signs of wear and tear on the teeth. Many patients awaken in the morning with jaw or ear pain.

2. Habitual gum chewing, ice crunching or fingernail biting

3. Dental problems and misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion). Patients may complain that it is difficult to find a comfortable bite or that the way their teeth fit together has changed. Chewing on only one side of the jaw can lead to or be a result of TMJ problems.

4. Trauma to the jaws. Previous fractures in the jaw or facial bones can lead to TMJ disorders.

5. Stress frequently leads to unreleased nervous energy. It is very common for people under stress to release this nervous energy by either consciously or unconsciously grinding and clenching their teeth.

6. Occupational tasks such as holding the telephone between the head and shoulder may contribute to TMJ disorders.

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Greg Ganzkow DDS | www.ganzkowdds.com | (206) 542-3535
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