The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is one of the body’s most complex joints. Here, our Calgary dentists explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), 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. You use this hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are caused by problems with the jaw and facial muscles. If the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually become immobile and cause pain.
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.
Cartilage absorbs impacts during movement and allows bones to glide over one another without friction. When the cartilage erodes, you will experience pain and swelling, and you may be unable to move your jaw.
Muscle disorders, also known as myofascial pain, are characterized by pain and discomfort in all the jaw-controlling muscles. Additionally, you may experience discomfort in your jaw muscles, shoulders, and neck.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A small, soft disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle facilitates the smooth opening and closing of the jaw. This disc is also important because it absorbs movement-related shocks to the jaw joint.
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.
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
- 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 You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, massaging your neck and jaw muscles, and trying over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are ineffective, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist.
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.