Jaw Anatomy – Understanding the Fundamentals
It is highly important to get the fundamentals right first, which is why we have created this anatomy series regarding our oral structures to allow us to have a good overview of the building blocks that we take care of.
Well, we believe the reason oral care is often not optimal is not because we are not diligent enough to care most of the time. We believe one of the most compelling reasons is actually because most of us have very fragmented knowledge of our oral structures.
In our standard oral care regimen, brushing of our teeth is always the focus (rightly so) yet when we take a macro view of the mouth, we see how if the other structures are left uncleaned, the bacteria on our inner linings of the mouth, or the tongue, or the gums, can actually fester and transfer over to our teeth, and wreck havoc despite our best efforts.
It would be like opening a bag of fresh vegetables and discovering a worm on one of the stalks. We take away the worm, and put the stalk back into the bag, without checking if there are other worms in the bag.
Let’s talk about jaw anatomy today.
Time to increase our jaw anatomy vocabulary! Our jaws are made up of the upper jaw (maxilla) and the lower jaw (mandible). They are bones that are tooth bearing. The portion of the bones that hold the tooth sockets is called the alveolar process.
Upper Jaw (Maxilla)
Plays the role of boundary drawing – provides walls for the roof of the mouth, the orbits ( the hole where the eye socket resides) and the nasal cavity.
Lower Jaw (Mandible)
The mandible is the portion that actually moves during the eating and the talking. It is connected to the temporal bone by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and this is the structure that supports the lower jaw movement.
You may have heard of temporomandibular disorders (TMD), of which the most common would be dislocation of the TMJ. You know, if/when we get into a fight and a fist comes running right across your lower cheek and you suddenly hear a “pop” sound before the darkness of pain descends? Yup, that’s right.
Essentially, TMD is the general term for any problem of the chewing muscles and joints that connect our lower jaw to our skull.