Often referred to as the TMJ, the temporomandibular joint is one of our body's most complex joints. In this post, our dentists in Winnipeg explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms and treatment options.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The joint that connects the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw is the TMJ. This hinge helps you do everything from moving your jaw to speaking, eating and breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) occur when an issue with your jaw and facial muscles prevents them from functioning properly. You'll start to experience pain in the area and you may eventually be unable to move the joint if the disorder progresses to a severe state.
Types of TMJ Disorder
There are three main types of TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder occurs when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw wears away or becomes fractured.
Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement, allowing your bones to glide easily over each other. The erosion of cartilage will lead to pain and swelling, and you may not be able to move your jaw.
Also called myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. You might 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.
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 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
- Prescription medications
Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.