Function of the TMJ


TMJ at Raptou Family Dental, Columbus, OHYour mouth is made up of several working components. In addition to the visible structures, such as your teeth, your gums, and your other intraoral tissues, your mouth also consists of bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints. All of these components work together to allow you to perform some different tasks. When any of these components have been affected by an issue, the functions of your mouth can be affected. The temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are essential for normal oral function. If you are experiencing issues with these joints, Raptou Family Dental can help.

What Are the TMJ?


The TMJ, or temporomandibular joints, are two joints found in your mouth. They are located one on each side of the mouth, right where your mandible, or lower jaw, meets your skull. These joints are ball and socket joints, each with a disc between. The disc absorbs the impact of the pressures placed on the TMJ.

What Do the TMJ Do?


The TMJ is responsible for the movements of your mouth. They allow you to open and close your mouth, bite, chew, speak, and move your mandible from side to side. These joints work with the attached muscles, bones, and ligaments to perform all of these essential tasks every single day.

What Affects the Functioning of Your TMJ?


When your TMJ is healthy, you are most likely completely unaware of there presence. However, there are several issues that can affect the health of your TMJ, leading to excruciating pain and great difficulty in performing tasks like eating and speaking. Issues that can affect the proper functioning of your TMJ include:
•  Bruxism. This is a condition in which your grind and clench your teeth. It places excessive pressure on your jaw muscles and your TMJ, leading to extreme pain. Bruxism often occurs while you are sleeping, when you have no control over the grinding and clenching motions of your jaw. This condition can be caused by many things, including stress, alignment issues of your teeth or jaws, caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and certain types of medication.
•  Facial trauma. Car accidents, falls, and sports-related injuries can all lead to facial injuries that can harm your jaw and your temporomandibular joints.
•  Jaw dislocation. When your jaw becomes dislocated, even only momentarily, it can cause small tears in your TMJ that can lead to irritation and inflammation of the joints.
•  Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage at the ends of your bones, including those in your TMJ, begin to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation in your joints, including your TMJ.

Restoring Normal Functions to Your TMJ


When issues are affecting the health and functions of your TMJ, treatment is needed. With a thorough oral exam, we can determine the exact cause of your TMJ issues. This then helps us to determine the best treatment to restore normal functions. Common treatments include:
•  Home remedies, including over the counter and prescription medications and relaxation techniques.
•  Night guards. A night guard is a protective oral device that is worn while you sleep. It works to absorb the impacts of bruxism on your jaw and TMJ.
•  Botox. Botox injections can be used to weaken the muscles that cause grinding and clenching, allowing your muscles and joints to heal.
•  Orthodontics. If jaw or teeth misalignment is causing your TMJ issues, orthodontic treatment can help to provide proper alignment and improve your TMJ functioning.
•  Oral surgery. In severe cases, oral surgery may be recommended.

If your TMJ is causing you discomfort, and you are finding it difficult to do basic tasks like eat and speak, we can diagnose the cause of your pain and provide you with the treatment you need to restore normal functions to your joints while also restoring your quality of life. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Raptou Family Dental today at (614) 427-0449.

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