In 1997 November was officially declared as the "Jaw Joints-TMJ Awareness month in the United States of America. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, commonly referred to as “TMJ,” afflict millions of people not only Americans but worldwide, both children and adults of both sexes and all races. TMJ dysfunction is a painful and often disabling disorder that emanates from the Jaw Joints and can affect the health of the entire neuromusculo-skeletal system often spreading and dysfunction throughout the entire body. Understanding the complex relationship of temporomandibular disorders to overall health requires broad understanding of not only the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck but also the cervical spine and upper quarter complex.
There are over 120 known signs and symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction. Some of the extra oral signs and symptoms include:
Ear symptoms such as fullness, ringing in the ears
Pain behind the eyes
Numbness and tingling of the hands and fingers
Neck and shoulder pain
Lower back pain
Some of the intra oral signs and symptoms may include
Crowded and crooked teeth
Narrow upper and lower arches
Worn lower front teeth
Deep bite (over lapping of upper front teeth over lower front teeth)
Anterior open bites
Broken back teeth
Tongue thrust habits
Grinding and clenching
Phantom tooth ache
The aforementioned are just a small example of the myriad signs and symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and non of the medical interventions have helped or you are a victim of over prescription of an array of medications, you are not alone. According to National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research NIDCR, TMJ disorders are the second most common pain causing musculo-skeletal conditions after chronic lower back pain. It is estimated that 5-12% of the population is affected by TMJ dysfunction.
This awareness can be increased among all the countries and not just the USA (where this awareness month was instituted), and in particular those in a position to help treat, insure, provide appropriate research, and ultimately to prevent this scourge everywhere.