Ask the Expert: My jaw clicks and it hurts at each ear, someone said "you have TMJ". Tell me about it. - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

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Ask the Expert: My jaw clicks and it hurts at each ear, someone said "you have TMJ". Tell me about it.

My jaw clicks and it hurts at each ear, someone said "you have TMJ". Tell me about it.

Ear pain, ringing in the ears, and hearing noises in the ears, pain in the face, and eye twitching can be directly related to tempromandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). Slippage and movement of the piece of cartilage in the jaw joint complex cause clicking of the jaw.

Tempromandibular joint dysfunction, also know as TMJ, exists when the upper and lower jaw joint complex becomes inflamed and/or compressed. This inflammation and compression can be the result of an injury, such as a direct blow to the face, or improper development of the upper and/or lower jaws and bones. Every person has two tempromandibular joints (TMJ) and inflammation, compression and/or slippage of the piece of cartilage in the jaw joint complex is properly termed tempromandibular joint dysfunction.

The piece of cartilage in the jaw joint complex is located between the upper and lower jaw bones. More specifically, the cartilaginous disc rests on top of the condylar head - a ball-shaped protuberance at the uppermost part of the lower jaw - and is below the concave surface of the temporal bone, which makes up part of the upper jaw. When the disc is properly functioning it provides a cushion between the upper and lower jaws as you open and close your mouth. Normally the disc stays on top of the condylar during all movements of the lower jaw such as opening wide and closing, moving your bottom jaw from side to side, and backward and forward. The disc is held in its proper place by little ligaments.

Dysfunction of the jaw joint complex occurs when this disc does not remain in the proper place. Temporary displacement of the disc produces clicking or popping noises while permanent displacement may cause one loud pop followed by limited opening or not being able to close completely. Symptoms of disc displacement can lead to muscular pain of the face, side or top of head, the neck, and upper, mid and/or lower back. Other symptoms may include ringing in the ears, stuffiness and/or pain in the ears, and continual changes in vision. Additional symptoms may include clenching or ringing of the teeth.

Initial treatment is usually oriented toward a conservative, non-surgical approach. This treatment may include a change in your diet and perhaps wearing removable appliances during the healing phase of treatment.

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