Jaw joint and muscle pain
Temporo-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
The joint in your jaw is called the Temporo-Mandibular Joint. There can be problems which develop with the joint or muscles acting on the joint which can cause a number of symptoms including;
A painful clicking or popping joint
Pain from the muscles around your face
Pain from your teeth, back teeth which are mobile or fillings in back teeth which keep breaking
Difficulty opening your mouth at times
Test your joint!
Put a finger in the joint in front of your ears
Open your jaw slowly feeling it move
Tenderness, clicking or grating can be a sign of TMD
TMD is a relatively common condition and often you can have a clicking jaw without any symptoms - in these cases there is no need for treatment. You can have symptoms of TMD (such as painful teeth in the morning or teeth which are breaking) without a clicking joint. Fillings in teeth which keep breaking could also be because of structural weakness in the tooth - in these cases, protection of the teeth with crowns are recommended.
Exercising the jaw joint can help train the muscles to function correctly and stop the joint clicking. You can download our jaw exercise information here.
Causes of jaw joint and facial muscle pain (TMD)
TMD can be caused by;
An uneven bite (teeth meeting together in an un-balanced way)
Trauma (such as a blow to the face)
Wear and tear of the jaw joint
If there are problems from dysfunction of the jaw joint then there are a number of treatments we provide. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis for the most appropriate management. Jaw exercises can tighten the muscles around your jaw joint to help relax the joint and improve its function.
The way your teeth meet together can influence how forces go through the muscles around your face and the movement of the jaw joint. Reducing the biting forces or preventing teeth grinding together can reduce loading through the joint and allow it to relax. Splints can be particularly useful at night time if you clench or grind your teeth.
There are two types of splints we recommend;
Exercising your jaw joint can help train the muscles to function correctly and stop the joint clicking
Sleep Clench Inhibitor Splint (SCI splint)
This splint is placed over the front incisor teeth. The bite platform prevents your canine and back teeth meeting together which reduces muscle contractions in your head and face. To see how this works, touch the muscles on the temples of your head and bite the back teeth hard together; you will be able to feel these muscles bulging. If you get a pencil and place it between the front teeth then bite down again, these muscles will be more relaxed.
Full coverage stabalisation splint (Michigan Splint)
This splint covers all the teeth including the back teeth. Don't confuse this with a soft splint which is flexible, these splints are hard and rigid. The splint is custom made with thorough planning to ensure when your teeth bite together, all the teeth meet evenly and the forces are balanced (the splint is of a variable thickness to accommodate the different positions of teeth). As the teeth will have a comfortable position to come together, this can reduce teeth sliding around trying to find the correct position to meet and distributes all the clenching forces through all the teeth in a controlled way.
Unlike splints which go over your teeth the Cerezen appliance goes in your ears. The benefit of this is that it can be worn all the time, not just night time when splints are commonly worn.
The appliance is custom made for you fitting comfortably in the ear canal. They retain the shape of the ear canal with the jaw in its open position encouraging you to keep your teeth apart. As it is comfortable to wear and almost invisible, you can wear it during the day and at night.