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Facts About TM Joint, Which Makes It Unique

There are many joints in a human’s body, but amongst all these joints, the Temporomandibular joint is the most unique and special joint. What makes this joint so special is that fact that it is not one, but two joints in one, which are located on either side of the head and are connected by the jawbone. Since both of them are connected, therefore, movements in one joint, affects the functions of the other joint. In fact, it is not possible to move one, without moving the other. Both joints have further double joint spaces. Both joints need to move in synchrony. Both joints move almost all 24 hours a day, as in during saliva swallowing.

Both Joints Differ From Each Other But Are Still Closely Related

Although both the joints are related, it does not mean that both the Temporomandibular joints are identical to each other. In fact, both these joints differ from each other in not just their shape, position and size, but they also differ in their functions. Therefore, it is possible that a problem may occur in only one joint, but may get manifested in the other or both the joints. Therefore, you may face a situation, where the pain may start from the joint situated at one end of the head, but it may travel to the other side of the head. This happens due to the relationship between these two joints.

Teeth Dictate The Functions Of This Joint

Another very interesting and unique feature of this joint is that, unlike other joints which control their own functioning, the functions of this joint are dictated by another structure, which are the teeth. The teeth may be the passive members of both the upper and lower jaws, but it is important that these teeth fit together and interrelate in a very specific manner. In fact, for the brain, the importance of the positioning of the tooth comes before the positioning of the joint. This results in the TM joint getting forced to move in a manner that ensures that the teeth fit perfectly. This can put a lot of pressure on the joint and eventually misalignment within the joint capsule may occur. This misalignment in turn results in spasms and pains in the muscles that control the joints. Therefore, the spasms that you may be experiencing and attributing to the muscles may actually be the result of the muscle getting caught between tooth and jaw positions.

Articular Disc

The joint also has a disc located between condyle and glenoid fossa. There is a muscle attached at the front of the disc, which pulls it forward when the condyle moves forward in the glenoid fossa and when the condyle moves back in the glenoid fossa, connective tissues similar to rubber band attached to the back of the disc, pull it back. Since the disc moves independently, any dislocation in it can cause major disorders which are known as an internal derangement of the TM joint and can cause pain, restricted jaw movements, clicking, popping and crepitus in the joints.

The derangements can be a result of genetic or acquired pathological changes in the joint. Generally, this derangement in preceded by spasms of head, neck, shoulder and back muscles. Other symptoms include headaches, dizziness, ear and muscle pains, blurred vision, etc. Medical and dental therapies are available for the treatment of the same, but they need to be individualized. For more information, see Dr. Sanjay Arora’s “Infratemporal Catastrophe Hypothesis”.

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