How TMJs and Jaw Movement Work

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy with good hygiene and regular dental care might not be as beneficial if your jaw doesn’t move as well as it should. While muscles power your jaw movement, your temporomandibular joints are the hinges that make biting and chewing possible. Therefore, keeping a close eye on signs that might indicate a jaw joint dysfunction could help you save the rest of your oral health from extenuating damage.

Joints, Muscles, and Nerves

Temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are important, but they’re only a portion of the components that make up your oral structures. The others, including your teeth and jawbone, can influence your TMJs in a number of different ways. If your bite isn’t properly aligned, your jaw’s muscles might have to work harder to maintain a straight-enough balance, which can stress and damage the joints and nerves that tell your jaw to move—called the trigeminal nerves.

The name, trigeminal, describes the three nerve branches that traverse each side of your face and jaw. Besides controlling your mouth’s functions, the nerve group also controls sensory functions for most of your head and face. When TMJ disorder strikes, your jaw’s joints, muscles, and nerves can radiate pain in form of chronic headaches, earaches, and facial soreness, as well as popping, clicking, and painful jaw joints.

Signs of a Dysfunction

The symptoms of jaw dysfunctions are tricky. Depending on the exact nature of your condition, you might not experience clicking or discomfort in your jaw, but instead, chronic headaches, or ringing in the ears. Many patients don’t realize they have TMJ disorder until they fail to find an accurate diagnosis for their discomfort. If you experience trouble or discomfort when you open and close your jaw, or if you notice that your teeth and/or jaw appear asymmetrical, then schedule an examination soon to determine if TMJ disorder is the source.



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