Archive | December, 2011

What is TMJ?

21 Dec

Since joining the team here at Southport Road Dental I have been asking a lot of questions and learning huge amounts as all things dental are still fairly new to me.

The plus side of this is that I am trying to learn about all things dental in the least medically sounding way possible.  As a Smile Advisor it is my job to explain things to our clients, funnily enough 99.9% of the people that I speak to who come to see us are not dentists themselves and, like me, want things to be explained in terms that are fairly simple and easy to understand.

 There are always new things to learn in the world of teeth so I want to share with you the things I’m learning, in nice easy to understand terms.

This week I heard a lot of the term TMJ, now while I had gathered that it was something to do with your jaw didn’t know masses about it and so have put this guide together to help better understand it.

TMJ stands for Temporomandiloular Joint.  If you don’t mind I am going to keep referring to it as TMJ because I don’t know how you feel but it’s a bit much for me.  The TMJ is the joint that attaches your jaw (or mandiable) to your skull.

Often when people say that they have TMJ they mean that the have some form of disorder with their joint, this disorder is an acute or chronic inflammation of the joint and can cause a whole host of problems for you. Some of these include:

-biting or chewing difficulty

-a clicking, popping or grinding noise when opening and closing your mouth

-dull aching pain in your face

-earache, especially in the morning

-headaches and migraines, again more so in the mornings

-some hearing loss

-Jaw pain or tenderness

-reduced ability to open and close your mouth

-neck and shoulder pain


-tinnitus (occasionally referred to as ‘Phantom Sounds’ most commonly a ringing sound in the ears)

The pain that can come when suffering with TMJ disorder can often be confused with earache as the two are in such close proximity.


There are a number or reasons that you may be suffering with inflamed TMJ, in some cases you may not even realise that you are doing something that aggravates it.  The most common causes are:

-Bruxism (repetitive grinding or clenching of teeth, mostly at night)


-Jaw Thrusting

-Chewing Gum

-Biting finger nails and pens

-Taking excessively large bites when eating

-Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis

-Lack of overbite (the top teeth don’t sit over the lower ones)

-The inability to close the upper and lower teeth together at the back of your mouth

So how can your dentist help with this?

The treatment for these problems can often be solved by your dentist.  Replacing old restorations that you have had done which effect how your teeth close together can be a huge help as can having a nightguard or splint made to help stop any grinding or clenching in the night.

Of course prevention is always preferable to a cure so by keeping in mind these tips you could save yourself a whole lot of pain:

-avoid chewing gum

-try not to chew on pen lids

-STOP biting your fingernails

-don’t eat very hard or chewy foods too often

-try supporting your jaw when you yawn

Always seek professional advice if you think you have a problem, the sooner it is identified the sooner you can be pain free!


So there you go, hopefully you’ve got something from this too and if you have any questions please feel free to give us a call on 01257 754595.