The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the human body. In this blog, our dentists in Oakville discuss the three main TMJ disorders (TMD), including their symptoms and the ways they may be treated.
What are TMJ Disorders?
The TMJ is the joint connecting the temporal bones of your skull (located just beneath your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge allows you to do everything including moving your jaw to speak, breathe, and eat.
People develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) when they have a problem with their jaw and facial muscles. Pain occurs in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint eventually might not be able to move.
Kinds of TMJ Disorders
These are the three main TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Often referred to as osteoarthritis, people develop this joint degenerative disorder when the cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in the jaw together wears away or breaks.
Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide easily over each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may not be able to move your jaw.
Also called myofascial pain, muscle disorders consist of discomfort and pain 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.
When an individual has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated disc or damaged bone.
This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
You will probably experience pain in your face and jaw with any kind of TMJ disorder. The area around your ears could hurt, and you’ll experience an ache when trying to open your mouth to speak or eat.
Other symptoms may include:
- Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
- Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw
- Facial bruising or swelling
When to See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.
A dentist will go over your dental history, conduct an in-depth examination of your jaw and bite, as well as take X-rays to determine if you have a TMJ disorder. The dentist will then recommend a treatment plan which could include:
- Physical Therapy
- TMJ therapy
- Prescription medications
- Dental splints
- Oral Surgery
A combination of dental care and home remedies may be able to help manage your TMJ Disorder.