TMJ disease or damage is often the result of trauma, either singular or accumulated. Traumas can damage the structures of the TMJ just as any other joint in our body. The structural changes that can result may cause changes in how the TMJ functions and changes in how the system functions mechanically.
The “system” is the Stomatognathic System which is more than the sum of its parts. It is more than just teeth, gums, bones, muscles, cartilage, neural tissue and blood vessels. As a functional system, the only moving areas are the TMJs. When there is structural damage in the joints, usually evident by noise in the TMJs with opening and closing, the bite can change. When the bite changes, the muscles cannot work the way they were designed to, and muscle spasms can result. The spasms can then become part of a cycle that results in tissue damage, pain and tenderness of the face, or headache. It is possible that malocclusions – when the teeth do not meet together properly – can lead to muscle spasm and pain.