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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

One of the most complex joints in our bodies is the TMJ or temporomandibular joint; just like other joints, this can also experience injury or painful conditions. Here, our Taber dentists share the 3 types of TMJ disorders that can occur, the treatment options and how the symptoms can be managed.

What are disorders that affect your TMJ?

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. The TMJ is used for everything that you do that involves your mouth. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. While these disorders typically begin with pain, there is a possibility that they can progress to a severe state when left untreated which can result in the inability to move the joint entirely.

What are the different types of TMJ disorders?

There are 3 types of TMJ disorders that are seen. These are:

Disorders Causing Joint Degeneration

The most common TMJ disorder is osteoarthritis. This disorder causes the degeneration of the cartilage which holds the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together.

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 be unable to move your jaw.

Muscular Disorders or Myofascial Pain

Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. This type of joint disorder will primarily affect your shoulders, neck and jaw muscles.

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. The purpose of this disc is to absorb any shocks caused by the movement of your joint.

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. At this time, this is one of the joint conditions which cannot be resolved using surgery.

What are the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders?

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. When you use your mouth such as when eating or talking, then you may experience pain focused around the mouth, jaw and even around the ears.

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 should you seek medical or dental care?

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. In that case, 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 the following:

  • TMJ therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Oral Surgery
  • Dental splints
  • Prescription medications

Your dentist may be able to help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Are you experiencing headaches, dizziness, or jaw pain? We may be able to develop a custom treatment plan to help. Request an appointment with our Taber dentists today.

(403) 223-3135