Anatomy of the Jaw Joint

gemalter Schädel mit Kiefergelenkbelsky


The jaw joint is a turn-glide joint.

A joint disc separates the joint into an upper and a lower part. The turning motions are found in the upper part. The gliding motions are found in the lower part. Previously, it was thought that the jaw joint head needed to be positioned at the highest point of the joint socket. Today, it is clear that there is no ideal position for the jaw joint head in the joint socket.

The lower jaw only finds the correct tooth position through the interlocking of the teeth. Therefore, if the mouth is kept open for an extended period of time it frequently takes the brain – using special receptors – a little bit of time to retrieve the ideal lower jaw position. You usually experience this in the early morning when you have slept with an open mouth. This often causes us to feel like our teeth do not really fit on one another. A familiar bite sensation only comes about during the course of the morning. This happens when the taste receptors of the tooth suspension apparatus have readjusted the lower jaw muscles.

Therefore, the lower jaw position is controlled by the interlocking of our teeth. But what happens if a person does not have any teeth left? As already mentioned, in the past, the lower joint position was determined through x-rays by the position of the jaw joint head. It was thought that the jaw joint head had to be in the ideal position at highest point in the upper back of the joint socket. Many patients were forced into this position with new tooth prosthesis, tooth crowns and/or bridges, with the result that many patients, whom used to be pain free, began to experience considerable discomfort.

This is because x-rays only show bone structure. However, in the upper rear area is a tissue-based nerve and vessel cushion that cannot be seen on x-rays.  Through the new, denture-enforced, lower jaw position, this tissue-based cushion was compressed, resulting in pain. Nowadays, toothless patients are re-constructed in such a way that the jaw joint head rests in the front of the socket.

The bite of patients with teeth who do not feel any discomfort should not be changed at all. It is important that you feel comfortable with your new teeth.

Click here to see the video: Jaw Joint

This post is also available in: German

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