Temporo-mandibular Joint or T M Joint is a joint between the upper jaw (Maxilla) and lower jaw (Mandible). It is a unique joint unlike many other joints in body.
The Upper jaw is fixed to the skull-joined at various bones but the lower jaw is suspended at T M Joint by 4 sets of muscles. These muscles help in the movement of lower jaw during eating, speech, expressions, yawning etc. The other controlling factor is the contacts between teeth. The muscles provide gross control where as the tooth contacts or Occlusion provides finer control.
The balance between T M Joint, muscles and teeth is very crucial for overall health of TMJ. And a disruption leads to an extremely disturbing condition called Myofacial pain& Disfunction syndrome.(MPDS) T M J also can get affected by arthritis or disc degeneration like other joints in the body.
A thorough diagnosis is the key to effective treatment modality for TMJ problems. And an Orthodontist is the right person to do so.
Treatment varies from Surgery to splint therapy to physio therapy.
Studies suggest that most of the TMJoint problems can be effectively cured or controlled by maintaining the position of the condyle ( A part of lower jaw which fits the joint cavity) by means of proper intercuspation of the teeth and balanced muscles.
The orthodontist first determines the correct position for condyle and arranges the teeth accordingly by means of Occlusal Splints and braces.
In severe cases surgery is recommended but unfortunately the success rate is not very promising.