Jaw Functions and TMJ Disorder

woman suffering from tmj disorderIf you’ve ever felt or closely observed your jaw as you open and close your mouth, then you may have realized that it’s controlled by two joints on either side of your face. Known as temporomandibular joints (TMJs), they’re combination hinge-and-sliding joints that work simultaneously to power your jaw’s movement. TMJ disorder, or TMD, describes a dysfunction with your jaw’s joints that could lead to severe, chronic discomfort throughout your jaw, face, mouth, head, ears, neck, and shoulders.

How Do You Know If It’s TMD?

The difference between TMD and many other dental health issues is that the symptoms differ for everyone, and often might not include a hint that your jaw is in trouble. A popping and clicking jaw is one of the most common symptoms of jaw trouble, but other symptoms might include;

  • Sore facial and jaw muscles
  • Jaw muscle spasms
  • Involuntary teeth-grinding
  • Chronic headaches, particularly in the temporal region
  • Severe migraines
  • Seemingly-unexplained tinnitus (pain/ringing in the ears)
  • Sore muscles in your neck and shoulders

How Your Dentist Can Help

If you experience symptoms that you believe might indicate TMJ disorder, then visit your dentist as soon as possible for an examination and diagnosis. The longer you wait, the more damage your TMJs can sustain, the more extensive your treatment may be. After diagnosing your condition and the underlying cause behind it, we may be able to treat your TMJ disorder and alleviate the discomfort. Depending on the severity of your jaw dysfunction, treatment may include a mouthguard and possibly oral splints to help realign your jaw joints, or orthodontic treatment to straighten your bite. Extreme cases may be referred to a specialist, especially if oral surgery is required.


For over 15 years, Dr. Michele Collier and the talented professionals at Waterstone Family Dentistry have provided comfortable, compassionate dental care to patients of all ages from Fuquay Varina, NC, as well as Holly Springs, Angier, Willow Springs, Raleigh, and all surrounding communities. If you’d like to learn more, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Collier by calling (919) 557-5250 today.

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