Did you know that one of the body's most complex joints is in the skull? The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is important to jaw mobility. Join our Meteghan dentists to learn about 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. This hinge is extremely important, enabling you to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking, and even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
Types of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorders can be categorized into three main types:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Often called osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder occurs 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 experience reduced jaw motion.
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 jaw muscle pain, as well as pain in your 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. It also plays the important role of absorbing shocks to the jaw joint that happen during movement.
When one 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. There is currently no surgical solution to this problem.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
With each type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience jaw and facial pain. 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:
- Bruising or swelling of the face
- Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples
- Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when opening your jaw
- Increased pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When to See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If trying home remedies like stress reduction, chewing gum, gentle neck and jaw muscle massage, or trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should get in touch 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.