Frequently asked questions

TMJ disorder, also referred to as TMD, stands for Temporomandibular joint disorder. The temporomandibular joint involves both sides of your lower jaw. It is different from any other joint in the body as it does not rotate in the socket, but moves along the bones of the skull. The TMD joint is what holds your jaw in place to the rest of your head. It is located just in front of your ears. If you place two fingers in front of your ears, and open and close your mouth, you may be able to feel the joint moving.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder are: lockjaw (jaw joint either locking open or closed), clicking or popping when you chew or yawn, Limited range of motion in the jaw, ear pain, ringing in your ears, chronic facial pain, chronic neck or back pain, painful swallowing, teeth grinding or teeth pain, sensitive teeth, chronic headaches and migraines, dizziness and loss of balance.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms we highly recommend a TMJ Therapy consultation.
TMJ disorders and Sleep Apnea are not necessarily related, however, many people who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from a TMJ disorder. One symptom of sleep apnea is clenching at night in your sleep. Clenching pushes the bones of the jaw deep into the joint causing inflammation in the joint space. This inflammation leads to TMJ issues.
This depends on the severity of the case. In some instances the temporomandibular joint disorder has reached a point where it can no longer be completely reversed. Much like having arthritis in the hands or the knees. However, through proper treatment, healing of the joint can occur and a pseudo disc can be created to prevent further damage to the joint relieving many symptoms of TMD.
Frequently patients who have TMD disorders also experience ringing in their ears or ‘tinnitus’. Due to the inflammation of the joint and the pull on the muscles and ligaments holding the joint in place, many patients experience ringing in their ears.
When an individual is experiencing TMJ issues, the body's natural response is to move away from the area of irritation. The body can’t move away from the joint but instead individuals will tilt their head or rotate the head slightly to one side or forward. The subtle change in position puts an individual off balance and creates potential dizziness.
TMJ disorders are caused by multiple factors. Often they are a result of trauma, such as being hit or bumped in the face, causing the jaw to fall out of alignment and the disc to become displaced.

TMJ can also be caused by improper use of the facial muscles used for swallowing and chewing. This often starts as early as infancy as a result of a tongue tie or similar palate issue. Disorders of this type can be treated with Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy in childhood.

Another cause of TMJ disorders is sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can result in clenching and grinding of teeth during the night. Clenching pushes the bones of the jaw deep into the joint causing inflammation in the joint space. This inflammation leads to TMJ issues.
Orofacial Myofunctional therapy specifically targets the facial and throat muscles through physical conditioning. Oral issues such as: a small palate, teeth crowding and sleep apnea can be a result of improper use of the facial muscles. These problems often begin in childhood as a result of tongue ties or similar palate issues.

Therapy is performed by a clinical assistant or dental hygienist who specialize and are trained in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.
TMJ disorders can be treated aggressively through surgery or can be treated in a more non-invasive method by decompressing the joint space for a period of time. This is accomplished through the use of medical orthotics custom made to your individual condition. At TMJ & Sleep Therapy of Utah we recommend a less invasive option before resorting to surgery.

By using tools such as custom orthotics, cold laser therapy, orofacial myofunctional therapy, and consistent examinations TMJ & Sleep Therapy of Utah is well equipped to help individuals treat their TMJ issues.
The body's natural response to pain is to move away from what is causing the irritation. This is all done on a subconscious level. When we have inflammation in the joint or pain, the subconscious will tilt your head forward putting more pressure on your neck and shoulders. The pressure frequently leads to irritation of the nerves that run through the areas of the neck. Not only can this result in neck and shoulder pain but also hip and back pain due to the change in your posture. When nerves become pinched in the neck, it can lead to craniofacial pain such as headaches. The pinched nerves can also create symptoms in the arms and hands similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.