The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the base of the ear on the side of your face. It is a hinge joint that plays a major role in eating, speaking, and breathing. It connects the mandible to the skull. At Peninsula Family Dental Center, the function of the temporomandibular joint is adequately checked by our team during regular dental checkups and even during other clinical visits to detect any signs of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD).
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders refer to pain or dysfunction in the movement of the temporomandibular joint. Symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder depend on the cause and severity of the disorder. The signs and symptoms can develop on one or both sides of the jaw. The symptoms usually associated with TMD include pain in the face or neck, muscle stiffness, locking of the jaw, clicking sound that comes from the temporomandibular joint, and malocclusion. Muscle pain in the elevator muscles may point to acute TMD.
Causes of TMD
The exact cause of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders is unknown, but some conditions do contribute to them. These conditions include genetics, arthritis, bruxism, jaw injury, and congenital jaw abnormalities. TMD is also associated with poor posture, use of orthodontic braces, poor diet, stress, and poor sleep.
Examination of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The first step in the examination of your temporomandibular joint is for our dental professional to palpate the muscles of the face and neck. If you have a history of fibromyalgia, pain points in other parts of your body may also be examined. A splint analysis is carried out to locate any premature contacts, interferences, and slides present in your bite.
Our dental professional will palpate the corners of your mandible and mark them. He or she will take measurements of different parts of your face to assess for ramus asymmetry, plane cutting, and midline deviation of the facial skeleton, mandibular, and maxillary teeth. Our dental professional takes the height of the ramus of the mandible from the top of the tragus of your ear to the angle on the same side. The distance between the medial canthus of the orbit and the incisal edge of the maxillary cuspid is taken. The oral tissue is checked for swollen and tender lymph nodes and an enlarged thyroid. The salivary glands are also checked for swelling, tenderness, and masses. The midline structures, which are the nose; the nasal tip; the philtrum of the upper lip; the chin, are also examined and marked.
Next, Doppler auscultation is used to ascertain the alignment of the temporomandibular disc in the joint. Our dental professional uses a Therabite ruler to determine the range of motion of your TMJ by asking you to open your mouth as wide as possible. An occlusal examination is also done to assess your degree of premature occlusal contacts. Radiographs and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be used to further examine the joint when necessary. The joint is then palpated directly for clicking movement and load tested.
Treatment of the diagnosed Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is given based on our dental professional’s prescription. Surgery is a last resort and is usually only considered after conservative treatment has failed. Irrespective of available management techniques, early detection is important. Call (907) 283-9125 to reach Peninsula Family Dental Center for your temporomandibular joint examination.