What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your temporal bones, which are situated in front of your ear, just below your temple. From moving your jaw to eating, talking, and even breathing, you rely on this hinge.
When your jaw and facial muscles aren't working properly, you can develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). You start to feel pain there, and if the condition worsens, you might eventually lose the ability to move the joint.
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 easily over one another. 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, 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 allows for smooth and easy jaw opening and closing. This disc is also essential 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 avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, or attempting over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have not worked.
Before making an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder, your dentist will review your dental history, conduct a complete examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays. The course of action he or she suggests could consist of:
- 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.