Temporo-what? Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

A brief overview of TMJ

  • The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the site where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet.
  • TMJ disorders are a group of complex problems with many possible causes.
  • Symptoms of TMJ disorders include dizziness, clicking or popping of the jaw joint, headache, ear pain, and fullness or ringing in the ear.
  • There are many treatment options for TMJ disorders.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the area directly in front of the ear on either side of the head where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet. Within the TMJ, there are moving parts that allow the upper jaw to close on the lower jaw. This joint is a typical sliding “ball and socket” that has a disc sandwiched between it. The TMJ is used throughout the day to move the jaw, especially when biting and chewing, talking, and yawning. It is one of the most frequently used joints of the body.

The temporomandibular joints are complex and are composed of muscles, tendons, and bones. Each component contributes to the smooth operation of the TMJ. When the muscles are relaxed and balanced and both jaw joints open and close comfortably, we are able to talk, chew, or yawn without pain.

Locate the TMJ by putting a finger on the triangular structure in front of the ear. The finger is moved just slightly forward and pressed firmly while opening the jaw. The motion felt is from the TMJ. We can also feel the joint motion if we put a little finger against the inside front part of the ear canal. These maneuvers can cause considerable discomfort to a person who is experiencing TMJ difficulty, and doctors use them for making the diagnosis.

What are TMJ disorders, and what are causes of TMJ disorders?

TMJ disorders are a group of complex problems of the jaw joint. TMJ disorders are also sometimes referred to as myofascial pain dysfunction and Costen’s syndrome. Because muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws. The following are behaviors or conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders.

  • Teeth grinding and teeth clenching (bruxism) increase the wear on the cartilage lining of the TMJ. People who grind or clench their teeth may be unaware of this behavior unless they are told by someone observing this pattern while they are sleeping or by a dental professional noticing telltale signs of wear and tear on the teeth. Many patients awaken in the morning with jaw or ear pain, or, in some cases, a taste of blood in the mouth.
  • Habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting.
  • Dental problems and misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion). Patients may complain that it is difficult to find a comfortable bite or that the way their teeth fit together has changed. Chewing on only one side of the jaw can lead to or be a result of TMJ problems.
  • Trauma to the jaws: Previous fractures in the jaw or facial bones can lead to TMJ disorders.
  • Stress frequently leads to unreleased nervous energy. It is very common for people under stress to release this nervous energy by either consciously or unconsciously grinding and clenching their teeth.
  • Occupational tasks or habits such as holding the telephone between the head and shoulder may contribute to TMJ disorders.

You don’t have to suffer from TMJ disorders. If you have any of the symptoms outlined above, please contact us. At Horner Barrow Orthodontics, we can help!

All about palatal expanders

What is a palatal expander? A palatal expander is an orthodontic device that is either permanently or temporarily placed into the upper arch and will gradually widen it enough to make room for the teeth. Children who have crowded teeth and narrow dental arches may need  a palatal expander. Even though braces are usually placed on most children ages 12 to 13 or older, the palatal expander is often used on children as young as eight, before the upper jaw rigidly attaches to the rest of the skull. By the time most children reach their teen years, the palatal expander cannot be used as effectively.

palatal expander

A palatal expander is used for about four to six months on children whose upper arch is undesirably narrow, and does not allow enough room for their teeth to come in straight. After the device is inserted, either the parent or the orthodontist will expand the palate once or twice a day. To activate the expander, you will need to insert the metal, toothpick-shaped key into a keyhole located inside the expander. You then rotate the key towards the back of the child’s throat.

After about a week, gaps should be visible between the front teeth, which is a good sign that the jaw is expanding. The orthodontist will regularly check on the progress of the palatal expander, and will stop the expansion when there is enough space for the teeth to come in. At this point, the palatal expander will stay passively in the mouth for a few months to allow the jaw to heal in the new position. Any gap between the front teeth will now quickly close.

It is very important to keep the palatal expander clean by brushing it along with your teeth at night, and rinsing with water after drinking soda or juice.

If you have any questions about palatal expanders, or any other orthodontic topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us. At Horner Barrow Orthodontics, we appreciate the trust you place in us!

Your Beautiful Smile…Your Best Job-Hunting Asset

Job Seeker

We all know that real relationships develop over time. But there are certain times when an incredible first impression goes a long way. One of those times is when you’re  interviewing for a new job to advance your career.

50% Of Interviewers Will Remember Your Smile…Only 9% Will Remember Your Clothes

A recent study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry suggests that half of the adults surveyed will definitely remember other people’s smiles after having been introduced to them. That’s much more than the 9% who will remember a new acquaintance’s clothing. Your smile will certainly impress much more than any outfit you are wearing.

A Brighter Smile Could Mean A Higher Starting Salary

Your smile can have a direct impact on your career opportunities. A 2012 study found that people with straight teeth are more likely to be perceived as smart and happy. Even more significantly, about 3 in 4 people said that they’re more likely to trust someone with straight teeth—a very important factor when it comes to professional opportunities.

What Will People Remember About Your Smile?

While it may not seem fair, most people make assumptions based on someone’s smile. The beauty is that, armed with knowledge (and a really great orthodontist), YOU can take charge of the way people perceive you in professional situations such as interviews.

Make A Memorable Impression So They’ll Want To Get To Know You Better

Making a really good first impression gives you the opportunity to let the “real” you come through. After all, that’s the most important part. Here’s some additional job hunting advice:

It’s All About Confidence, Not Perfection!

The most important aspect of a great smile isn’t whether or not you have perfectly straight teeth, or a perfect smile. It’s all about the confidence your smile brings. If there’s anything making you self-conscious about your smile, please talk with us. We can create a treatment plan just for you.

Thank you so much for trusting Horner Barrow Orthodontics with your healthy smile. Good luck in your new job search!