Definition and Cause
Temporomandibular Joint or simply TMJ is the connection point of jaw with the upper arch. All of us have two of them, actually. TMJ is a complex joint that can move in various directions during its movement like while chewing or speaking. When it is abused and becomes unstable, it leads to a disorder called TMD (or temporomandibular joint dysfunction).
When you have TMD, you may hear clicking sounds, experience facial pain through headaches or suffer from neck pains. Often the joints may feel painful simply because the surrounding structures cause the pain. One of the primary reasons for the pain is excessive loading or displacement when chewing, clenching and tooth grinding (bruxism). Results may lead to earaches, dizziness, clicking or grating sounds while chewing and inability to open wide your mouth. Most of the times, tooth fracturing is also reported.
One of the most popular and frequently used treatments for TMJ is a night guard. This isn’t the over-the-counter kind but a specially designed hard acrylic splint that can be worn at night to separate the two arches. They also prevent further fracturing of the teeth.
A carefully designed night guard must help the joints to sit in a proper position when it contacts the teeth on both sides. Adjustment of your night guard may mean several appointments to your dentist as the healing progress takes place. Remember that lack of proper adjusting or neglect to form a stable joint position makes a larger problem leading to further destabilization of the joint.