What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint that joins your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are situated just below your temple and in front of your ear. You move your jaw, eat, talk, breathe, and do everything else using this hinge.
TMJs (temporomandibular joint disorders) are caused by problems with the jaw and facial muscles. You start to feel pain there, and if the condition worsens, the joint might eventually stop moving altogether.
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 shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide over each other easily. When the cartilage deteriorates, you will experience pain and swelling, and you may be unable to move your jaw.
Muscle disorders, also known as myofascial pain, involve pain and discomfort in all of the muscles that move your jaw. Jaw, neck, and shoulder pain are other potential symptoms.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A soft, small disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle makes jaw opening and closing smooth and easy. This disc is also important because it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint 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.
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
Make a dental appointment if at-home remedies like stress reduction, gum chewing, gentle neck and jaw massages, and the use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not worked.
Before determining whether you have TMJ Disorder, your dentist will review your dental history, thoroughly examine your bite and jaw, and take x-rays to help make the diagnosis. He or she might suggest the following therapies:
- 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.