The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the body’s most complex joints and treating conditions affecting it is important. Here, our Weyburn dentists explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms and treatment options.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint that attaches your skull's temporal bones (just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge is used to do just about everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there's an issue affecting your jaw and facial muscles. You might begin to experience pain and or difficulty with your jaw; if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
Types of TMJ Disorder
There are three primary kinds of TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
This joint degenerative disorder, more popularly known as osteoarthritis, occurs when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together tears or wears away.
Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide easily over each other. If the cartilage erodes, most patients will feel jaw pain and experience, and may not be able to move their jaw.
Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. You may also experience pain in your jaw muscles, shoulders and neck.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A soft, small disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle makes the opening and closing of the jaw smooth and easy. This disc is also important as it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during movement.
If one has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced because of a dislocated disc or damaged bone.
This discolation causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.
Other symptoms may include:
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Difficulties opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness or temple pain
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gentle neck and jaw massage, and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.
Your dentist will review your dental history, perform a thorough examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays to assess before providing an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. The treatment he or she recommends may include:
- TMJ therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Prescription medications
Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.