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The masticatory system refers to the jaw joints, masticatory muscles, teeth and closely related tissues. The most common pain conditions and functional disorders of the masticatory system include jaw joint noises, pain in the jaw joints or masticatory muscles, limited ability to open the mouth and movement disorders of the lower jaw. Other symptoms include headache, facial pain and ear pain.

Problems in the masticatory system are often mild and do not always require treatment.

  • University students have weekly or daily masticatory problems, and these problems are more common in women than in men
  • The problems can be classified as muscular or joint-related or a combination of these.
  • The diagnosis is based on assessment of the symptoms and careful clinical examination, which can be complemented with imaging and other examinations if necessary.
  • Due to the complexity of the problems, treatment often requires multidisciplinary collaboration.

Q & A about masticatory system complaints

Occlusal therapy refers to the treatment of masticatory (chewing) system disorders (temporomandibular disorders, TMD) such as masticatory muscle or jaw joint symptoms due to bruxism (teeth grinding). The treatment may include providing the patient with advice, physiotherapy and the use of a bruxism splint. If necessary, pain and other symptoms can be be alleviated with painkillers.

Jaw joint clicking is a fairly common problem that may occur when the mouth is opened or closed. The most common cause is reversible disc displacement. If the jaw joint sounds are not associated with pain, treatment is not necessary.
Do not try clicking unnecessarily. If the problems increase or your jaw joint gets stuck, contact your dentist.

There is a lot you can do to alleviate your problems, including jaw exercises, stretching and massage. Pay attention to your posture and work positions, take breaks while working and remember to exercise and relax sufficiently.

Your jaw is in a relaxed position when your upper and lower teeth do not touch each other, there is a small gap between your upper and lower teeth, and your tongue lies relaxed on the bottom of your mouth. Your teeth should not touch each other except when you chew and as you begin to swallow.

To reduce joint strain avoid chewing gum, your nails or objects such as pens or pencils.

Treatment of masticatory system disorders is usually successful. There are many treatment methods. The best treatment is chosen individually based on the underlying causes and severity of the problems and any other disorders you may have.
Treatment does not generally overcome jaw clicking, but pain-free clicking does not usually require treatment.
Self-care according to you dentist’s instructions will ensure treatment success.

Bruxism splints should be cleaned daily. It is recommended to use dish-washing liquid or denture cleaning agents. Cleaning and disinfecting tablets can be used if necessary (a couple of times a month).
How the bruxism splint should be stored depends on the material it is made of. Store the splint in its box and keep it dry or moist.
Your dentist will tell you how to take care of your splint.