TMJ / TMD
TMJ is an abbreviation meaning "temporomandibular joint" & any symptom of this joint is referred to as TMD "Temporomandibular Joint Disorder".
Two temporomandibular joints, one on each side, connect the lower jaw (the mandible), to temporal bones of the skull. Between these two bones is a thin cartilaginous disc which acts to cushion the bones when the muscles open and close the lower jaw during chewing, talking and swallowing. When the lower jaw is centered in its most stable position, the muscles are relaxed and all the teeth touch together at the same time. This harmony allows the joints, muscles and teeth to be protected during chewing function.
When the chewing system is out of balance, caused either by a misaligned bite, trauma, dental work, or artificial tooth movement (orthodontic treatment), the joints must be pulled by the muscles away from their ideal, stable biologic position to make the teeth fit together. Early on, the jaw joints may be able to adapt to this position without any joint or muscle pain or visible damage to the teeth. Over time, however, this biomechanical and physiologic imbalance may result in severe damage to the chewing system, leading to a wide range of symptoms known collectively as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) or TMJ dysfunction.
When the teeth do not fit together properly and TM joints are unstable, the chewing system begins to breakdown, causing the teeth, bone, muscles, joints and face to age prematurely. As with any chronic diseases, TMJ dysfunction may take years for a person to develop and become aware of its damaging effects. Many people suffer from headaches, neck pain and jaw joint problems associated with an improper bite relationship of their teeth, but never make the connection because the symptoms seem unrelated to a bite problem. There are many more people, however, who experience no pain and are thus often unaware of the progressive damage their teeth, joint and muscles are suffering because of their TMJ dysfunction.
Bioesthetic Dentistry focuses on diagnosing TMJ dysfunction as early as possible and restoring harmony to the chewing system by correcting the causes of tooth wear, joint imbalance and muscle pain, rather than just treating symptoms.