TMJ, Trigeminal Nerve and Teeth

In Teeth, TMJ by Dr. Donald Johnson

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the three trigeminal nerves work together as very important structures in the head.  When the TMJ is injured or jarred out of alignment, it affects the head and the neck because the trigeminal nerves innervate the TMJ and much of the rest of the head and the neck.  Therefore, head and facial pain may result with any disorder in the TMJ.  A Coeur d’Alene dentist can help.

The TMJ is the most active joint in the human body.  It is involved in 2,000 to 3,000 swallowing actions daily.  That’s 60,000 to 90,000 actions per month; that’s about 1 million actions per year.  And then there is chewing at meals, snacks, gum, etc.  And then there is speaking and breathing!

The TMJ is the only joint in the body that is one side of the jaw is knocked out of its alignment that the other side is also knocked out.  This causes numerous problems in the head and face.  A Coeur d’Alene dentist may be the only one who can help.

80% of the input to the brain comes from the 12 cranial nerves.  These nerves control almost everything from taste to blood vessels.  Nearly 60% of the total input to the brain comes from the trigeminal nerve.  This input comes from teeth, periodontal ligaments, muscles that move the jaw, muscles that tighten the ear drum, muscles that control the eustachian tubes, the sinus linings, parts of the tongue and the TMJ.  It even controls the blood flow to over 60% of the front of the brain.

TMJ pain moves through nerve structures and the resultant pain is referred elsewhere in the head, neck, and face.  Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) has symptoms which include grinding, clicking, or popping in the joint.  A Coeur d’Alene dentist can easily recognize this.  Also headaches (including migraines) may also be from TMD as is tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness (vertigo), and severe neck pain.

Most people do not suspect that their pain is in any way associated with their TMJ.  They suffer from the problem of TMD and some are able to control it, adapting in their own way.  But when the adaptation fails, which it usually does, what do they do next?  Usually they just put up with it for the rest of their lives.  As TMD gets worse, pain can become unbearable.  Since TMD is difficult to diagnose, many patients are ignored when they consult a dentist.  They just do not know how to treat it because they do not know how to find the cause of the pain.  It is important to find a Coeur d’Alene dentist who is trained in treating head, neck, and facial pain.