According to the TMJ Association, three main types of TMJ Disorder exist. People may experience a combination of these types and symptoms may overlap, but TMJ Disorder can be divided into three types:
As the most common type of TMJ Disorder, Myofacial Pain involves aches and spasms of the muscles that help you open and close your mouth. Discomfort in these muscles can stem from many causes: grinding your teeth at night, constant gum chewing, clenching from stress, direct injury to the muscles, bite changes, incorrect head posture, and numerous others. Sometimes, myofacial pain can extend down to muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Internal Joint Problems
Internal Joint Problems involve structural changes or damages to your jaw joint. If you put your fingers in front of your ears, you can feel your jaw joint when you open and close. You may feel clicking, grinding or popping on one or both sides when opening or closing. Some people can even hear a clicking or popping. Clicking and popping do not imply you have TMJ Disorder but serve as signals.
Arthritis of the Jaw Joint
Arthritis can affect all joints in the body, even the jaw joint. Discomfort, accompanied by a grinding feeling (or noise) in the jaw joint, is often associated with arthritis.
About my experiences helping patients with TMJ Disorder
After attending and teaching at Tufts Dental School, I moved to south Florida with my wife Joanne and have been practicing in the Delray and Boynton Beach area for over 25 years. Each year, more new patients come to my office for treatment of TMJ Disorder. The disease is certainly becoming more prevalent. Some dentists attribute this to the elevated stress levels in America, while others believe patients are just more apt to seek care. Regardless, if you experience symptoms, my strongest advise is to seek a professional opinion. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a TMJ evaluation, please feel free to contact us