The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in your body. Here, our Sault Ste. Marie dentists explain the types of TMJ disorders as well as their symptoms and treatment options.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint connecting the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge allows you to move your jaw to wat, talk and even to breath.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
Types of TMJ Disorder
There are actually three main types of TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder happens when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together breaks or wears away.
Your body's cartilage is used to absorb any shock during movement and it also allows your bones to glide over each other with ease. If your cartilage begins to deteriorate, it can lead to pain and swelling and even an inability to move your jaw.
Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders cause pain and discomfort to all the muscles controlling how your jaw moves. 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 someone has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw will be disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated disc or damaged bone.
This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Unfortunately, at this time there is no surgical solution to this condition.
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:
- Swelling or bruising of the face or jaw
- Trouble opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when your jaw is opened
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When it is Time to See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If you can't relieve your TMJ pain with any 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.
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
Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.