TMD (TMJ disorder) is a series of signs and symptoms associated with the Temporal mandibular joints, which include:
TMJ disorders and their associated pain consequences are being recognized more and more by the prevention-oriented health care providers. These disorders are fre quently discussed in popular magazines and in health columns of daily newspapers.
TMJ stands for Iemporo Mandibular J.oint which is the jaw joint in front of the ear. If you, or someone you know, are suffering from the following symptoms in various combinations and intensities such as:
popping jaw joints when eating and/or yawning;
stiff neck and shoulders;
tingly fingers; low back pain;
frequent dizzy spells; light-headedness;
then you might have consulted your family physician, and through him the otologist (ear-specialist), radiologist, neurologist and psychiatrist, usually in that order. When, after many tests, nothing was found (and when after attempted drug therapy your pain really did not go away), it might have been suggested that you "learn to live with your pain" or that you would do well to take tranquilizers regularly.
Some well-informed health care provider may also have suggested that the pain might be related to a "bad bite" and may have suggested that you see your dentist. However, not every general dentist recognizes and treats TMJ dysfunction. Only specially-trained and qualified dentists can help you with your TMJ-related problems.
To test whether your TMJ's are functioning properly or are showing signs of dysfunction, place your index finger tip in front of your ear onto the side of the "knob" (condyle) in each joint and then open and close your mouth. If it hurts - or pops or creaks in the joints - they are not functioning properly. The same is true if these symptoms appear when you place the little fingers into the ear canals, (pad of the fingertip forward, nails to the back, elbows up and out), pressing forward while opening and closing the mouth. This self-test for TMJ disorders may give you new insight as to the cause of your chronic pain.
There is hope for relief. (to be continued...)
(By Dr. R. L. Bubenzer, DDS, FAGD)