The temporomandibular joint (often called the TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the human body. In this blog, our Amherstburg dentists talk about the three main kinds of TMJ disorders (TMD), including their symptoms and the treatment options available.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint that connects the temporal bones of your skull (situated just beneath your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. You use this hinge every day to perform many activities such as moving your jaw to eat, talk, and breathe.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) develop when there is a problem with your jaw and facial muscles. You start experiencing pain in this area and if the disorder continues to advance and gets to a severe state, you might not be able to move this joint.
The Kinds of TMJ Disorder
Here we explain the three 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.
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 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 because it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that occurs during movement.
When someone has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced because of a damaged or dislocated bone.
This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
With each TMJ Disorder, you’ll probably feel pain in your face and jaw. You may also experience discomfort or pain around your ears, and you will probably have an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.
Other symptoms may include:
- Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When To Visit Your 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.
Your dentist will go over your dental history, conduct a comprehensive examination of your bite and jaw, and take X-rays to evaluate your condition before officially diagnosing you with a TMJ Disorder. The treatment they recommend might consist of:
- TMJ therapy
- Prescription medications
- Physical Therapy
- Dental splints
- Oral Surgery
Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.