TMJ Dysfunction Awareness

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:

  • Jaw joint noises-clicking, popping, grading noises

  • Headaches

  • Sore muscles of the face and jaw

  • Limited ability to open the mouth

  • Teeth sensitivity to temperature

  • Ear symptoms such as fullness, ringing in the ears

  • Dizziness

  • Facial asymmetry

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Numbness and tingling of the hands and fingers

  • Neck and shoulder pain

  • Lower back pain

  • Postural issues

  • Nervousness

  • Insomnia

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)

  • Cross bites

  • Anterior open bites

  • Missing teeth

  • 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.

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