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TMJ is an abbreviation for the jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint. Two temporomandibular joints, one on each side, connect the lower jaw (the mandible), to temporal bones of the skull. Between these two bones is a thin cartilagenous disc which acts to cushion the bones when the muscles open and close the lower jaw during chewing, talking and swallowing. When the lower jaw is centered in its most stable position, the muscles are relaxed and all the teeth touch together at the same time. This harmony allows the joints, muscles and teeth to be protected during chewing function.

When the chewing system is out of balance, caused either by a misaligned bite, trauma, dental work, or artificial tooth movement (orthodontic treatment), the joints must be pulled by the muscles away from their ideal, stable biologic position to make the teeth fit together. Early on, the jaw joints may be able to adapt to this position without any joint or muscle pain or visible damage to the teeth. Over time, however, this biomechanical and physiologic imbalance may result in severe damage to the chewing system, leading to a wide range of symptoms known collectively as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) or TMJ dysfunction.

When the teeth do not fit together properly and TM joints are unstable, the chewing system begins to breakdown, causing the teeth, bone, muscles, joints and face to age prematurely. As with any chronic diseases, TMJ dysfunction may take years for a person to develop and become aware of its damaging effects. Many people suffer from headaches, neck pain and jaw joint problems associated with an improper bite relationship of their teeth, but never make the connection because the symptoms seem unrelated to a bite problem. There are many more people, however, who experience no pain and are thus often unaware of the progressive damage their teeth, joint and muscles are suffering because of their TMJ dysfunction.

Dr. Gorman focuses on diagnosing TMJ dysfunction as early as possible and restoring harmony to the chewing system by correcting the causes of tooth wear, joint imbalance and muscle pain, rather than just treating symptoms. He uses a comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic approach to restoring health to the entire chewing system. He regards the teeth, jaw joints, bones, nerves, muscles, lips, tongue, mouth and the face as a collective system rather than individual parts. Equilibrium between all these oral structures allows the creation of a natural, youthful looking smile and promotes the maintenance of a healthy chewing system that will provide a lifetime of optimal comfort, function and beauty.

If you have any of the common complaints listed below, contact Dr. Gorman for a complimentary consultation:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Painful facial or neck muscles
  • Upper back or shoulder pain
  • Jaw joint soreness or pain
  • Difficulty or pain with chewing
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Jaw popping or clicking or grating noises
  • Ear pain, congestion or ringing in the ears

A thorough analysis of the function of your chewing system is the first step in diagnosis.     Dr. Gorman uses a guided orthotic appliance to temporarily correct the bite, relax the muscles and stabilize the jaw joints. This upper appliance, made of clear, hard plastic, is necessary to help stabilize the jaw joints. It is designed to stop the destructive effects of clenching and grinding of teeth, to correct harmful chewing movements and is also used to alleviate jaw joint and muscle pain caused by these problems.

No reason to suffer another minute. For those with minor pain and dysfunction or occasional headaches, jaw pain, neck pain or shoulder pain should schedule a complimentary consultation today. Waiting until the condition gets worse is not a long term solution and taking medications that affect your life in unhealthy ways is certainly not a long-term cure.

TMJ joint with osteoarthritis