Understanding the Complexities of TMJ Disorders

Dr. Nicholas Rauber offers patients a full range of general dental services at Aesthetic Dentistry Group, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At his practice, Dr. Nicholas Rauber also treats such issues as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which affect the functioning of the jaw and those facial muscles that control chewing and other jaw movements.

The TMJ is a complex joint that connects the head’s temporal bone with the lower jaw, and has both a sliding and hinging movement. With facial muscles connecting the temporal and jaw bones, an additional soft disc serves as a shock absorber during such movements as chewing.

A number of “mechanical” issues are recognized as causing TMJ dysfunction, including disc displacement, infection, excessive jaw looseness or tightness, and developmental and congenital jaw abnormalities. In addition, traumatic joint injury (which can be caused by opening the jaw too wide) is a known cause. Adding to the complexity of the disorder is that muscle-related myofacial pain disorders are also linked to TMJ dysfunction. These neuromuscular issues cause an aching pain centered around the ears that can radiate down the neck and to the head’s back and side.

One vital therapy in addressing TMJ disorders involves resting the jaw and avoiding such bad habits as teeth clenching and grinding, which can cause symptoms like problems with closing and opening the mouth and jaw clicks and pops. Because these symptoms can be similar to those of a number of other conditions, it makes sense to consult closely with a dentist like Dr. Nick Rauber to identify the root cause of TMJ disorders and determine the appropriate treatment.

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