Before diving into the nitty-gritties of TMJ, it is essential to ensure we know what it is. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to your skull. This joint allows functions like opening and closing of the mouth to speak and eat and is situated on both sides of your head in front of your ears. TMJ disorders can be categorized as a type of temporomandibular disorder (or TMD) that leads to pain in the joints and muscles of your jaw.
It might seem like a scary phenomenon, but the pain from a TMJ disorder is most likely temporary, with many patients overcoming it using nonsurgical dental treatments and self-managed care. To get to your TMJ disease treatment, let’s dive into the signs and causes of this disorder.
- Signs of TMJ disorder
In order to prevent the condition from worsening, it is essential to recognize what occurs. Some of the most commonly recognized red flags include:
- You might experience TMJ disorder as an initial tenderness, pain, or swelling in the joints of your jaw.
- Another notable sign could be pain or fatigue in your facial muscles.
- Bite irregularities and abnormally in some cases can indicate the presence of TMJ disease.
- Since the jaw joint is directly linked to your ears, earache and eventual hearing problems can also indicate an underlying TMJ disorder.
- The untreated hearing issues can then lead to a continuous ringing in the ears, a condition known as Tinnitus.
- Finally, a locked jaw also concludes to TMJ disease, wherein you might experience difficulty opening or closing your mouth.
- Causes of TMJ disorder
Like several other medical conditions, TMJ disorder cannot get pinpointed to a single cause. Take note of the contributing factors mentioned below:
- Chronic jaw pain due to a jaw injury such as a fall or a blow to the face
- continuous jaw clicking, popping and the grinding or clenching of teeth triggering the eventual erosion of the joint
- Excessive stress that raises the occurrence of muscle tension and jaw clenching eventually leads to TMJ disorder
- Poor posture for prolonged hours leads to neck strain and affects the functioning of the jaw muscle
- Patients with arthritic damage to their TMJ cartilage face an increased risk of TMJ disease
- Solutions of TMJ disorder
Thanks to the advancement in the field of dentistry, a serious jaw joint disorder like TMJ can now be treated using minimally invasive procedures like medications and therapy.
- Medications will help you overcome the pain related to TMJ disorder instantly. While some of these could be easily available over-the-counter, your dentist will prescribe some of the heavier-dosed pain killers depending on the severity of your condition. Medications include:
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Muscle relaxants
- Therapies fall under some of the safest self-care practices of treating TMJ treatment. Some of the commonly prescribed therapies include:
- Wearing oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances), which are soft or firm devices inserted over the teeth to help ease the pain
- Physical therapy involves exercises that help stretch and strengthen jaw muscles. It also covers sessions of ultrasound and heat and ice therapy.
- Counseling and educating yourself about the condition helps avoid any unnecessary triggers that might be aggravating your pain.
- Finally, if all else fails, your dentist might recommend you to undergo surgical procedures to avoid further complications.
- Arthrocentesis entails the insertion of minute needles into your jaw joint to irrigate it and help remove debris and inflammatory byproducts in and around the area.
- In some cases just giving corticosteroid injections might stage as a TMJ disease treatment.
- TMJ arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that has fewer risks and complications than open-joint surgery
- Modified condylotomy includes surgery on the lower jaw and is effective in overcoming the pain if you are experiencing locking of the jaw.
- Open-joint surgery repairs or replaces the joint when the case is too severe. It involves more risks than other procedures, and hence doctors do not recommend it usually.
I hope you have a better understanding of the TMJ disorder now and have the knowledge to choose how to alleviate your pain with simple home-care solutions. All in all, don’t overlook any of the signs and symptoms and contact your doctor promptly.
Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working at the Smile Clinic, he has witnessed how dental implants can improve people’s smile and boost their self confidence. If you are interested in improving your smile or need a dental procedure, contact Shen Chao to learn more by emailing him at email@example.com or get more information at www.joshuahongdds.com