What is TMJ Disorder and what does it affect?
The temporomandibular joint or TMJ is a joint that connects the bones just beneath your temple to your jaw allowing it to move like a hinge. You use this hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
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 condition progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
Is There More Than One Type of TMJ Disorder?
Yes, there are three types of TMJ disorders that you might be affected by, they are:
Joint Degenerative Disorders Wearing Down The Joints
This disorder is 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 apart or wears down over time.
The cartilage present around your bone absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide effortlessly over each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may not be able to move your jaw.
Muscle Disorders Affecting The Way You Move
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 Causing Unbalance
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 incredibly important as it helps to absorb any shock felt by 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.
Signs & Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
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
- Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When an Exam From a Dental Professional May Be Recommended
If you have already attempted at-home relief by massaging, chewing gum or using pain relievers and muscle relaxants then you should consider contacting your dentist or medical professional to be examined.
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. Some of the potential treatment options that your dentist may recommend are:
- 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.