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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

In your face, you have a complex joint known as the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This joint can sometimes cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. Here, our Napanee dentists share the main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), the causes and symptoms as well as treatment options.

What are TMJ Disorders?

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 joint, or hinge, is used for everything you do that includes your mouth such as speaking and eating.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. In the early stages of this disorder, you may only experience pain but as it continues to progress through to a more severe and advanced stage you may lose the function of this joint entirely.

The Different Types of TMJ Disorders

When it comes to TMJ disorders, there are three main types that we see:

Joint Degenerative Disorders (Osteoarthritis)

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 each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may not be able to move your jaw.

Myofascial Pain or Muscle Disorders

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 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.

Common Symptoms of TMD

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. You may notice pain that surrounds your ear and be extremely uncomfortable whenever you speak or eat.

Some of the other symptoms of TMJ disorders are:

  • 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 to Seek Care From a Dentist

Suppose at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, and trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective. You should then schedule a visit with your dentist in Napanee or your doctor.

Your dentist will perform various diagnostic tests such as a bite test and complete x-rays of the affected area to determine whether the cause may be caused by TMJ disorder. The treatment he or she recommends may include the following:

  • 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.

Are you experiencing symptoms associated with TMD such as headaches, dizziness, or jaw pain?  Request an appointment with our Napanee dentists today.

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