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Neuromuscular Dentistry - TMJ FAQ

TMJ Jaw Joint Pain Ask The Dentist John Purpura Question:
About 11 years ago I was involved in a bad relationship, my boyfriend at the time had punched me in the jaw and for a week I could not open my mouth. He has been out-of-the picture, but ever since then my jaw has been way off.

It would always crack and pop everytime I open my mouth. Now, for about 3 weeks, my left side of my jaw has been extremely sore and painful. It has caused me a servere earache. My whole left side of my face is sore and aches. It is painful for me to chew anything.

So, my question is, Who do I go to, to help me fix this problem? Would I go to my dentist or a facial specialist? Could you please help me find out how to stop this pain? ....Visitor from Ohio

The temporal-mandibular Joint is made up of two bones (the Temporal bone and the Mandible) which are moved by muscles and are cushioned with a fibrous disk (arcticular disk). Oftentimes noise in the joint is caused by, first the articular disk being out of place and sliding back into place and, the later sound at the end of opening your jaw wide is from the bones moving past each other.

When the jaw has problems opening it can be from either a structural problem like the disk being out-of-place in a forward postion and blocking the mandible from moving forward or a broken bone, which happens when the Condlye (the tip of the jaw bone) is broken and moved forward, or the bones have fused together and there is no longer a joint.

The other reason why the jaw will not open is because either the muscles which move it are too sore to work or the joint has so much inflamation which makes it hurt too much to move.

The best person for you to see would be a dentist who concentrates in TMD (they can be general dentists with an interest, an orthodontist, and often a maxillofacial surgeon). The pain which you describe can be from any of the above reasons.

Depending upon the cause, different treatments would be used. A good thing is that you said that the pain has only been for 3 weeks. This should be able to resolve with the proper treatment just as quickly.

John Purpura, DDS

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