TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint, is a hinge-type, synovial, and condylar joint connecting your skull’s temporal bones and the mandible (the lower jawbone). Located on either side of the face, the Temporomandibular Joint assists our body in performing important actions like speaking and chewing.
All about TMJ
Any dysfunction or issues of the TMJ are called temporomandibular joint disorders. Pain from the disorder can be slight or severe, and it can be acute or chronic.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Throbbing facial pain
- Facial swelling
- Chewing becomes painful or difficult
- Closing or opening your mouth causes a painful grating, popping, or clicking in your jaw joint
- Discomfort in either of the TMJs
- Hearing loss
- Joint locking
Women are more susceptible to TMJ disorders compared to men. These disorders are seen most commonly in the age group of 20-40 years old. Causes of TMJ dysfunction include:
- Dislocation or erosion of the shock-absorbing disk of the joint
- Damage of the cartilage in the joint due to arthritis
- Acute trauma to the jaw joints or adjacent tissues
A dental health professional diagnoses a TMJ disorder using dental X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and TMJ arthroscopy.
Sometimes, the signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can go away without treatment. Doctors suggest several treatment methods for persisting TMJ dysfunction symptoms. These include:
Medicines like anti-inflammatories and pain relievers prescribed by a dentist will help reduce severe pain that cannot be treated using OTC medications. Dentists also prescribe tricyclic antidepressants in decreasing doses for bruxism control, sleeplessness, and pain relief. Muscle relaxants are used to reduce the pain caused by muscle spasms.
TMJ therapy can include the following:
- wearing mouth guards or oral splints to help reduce jaw pain
- physical therapy, which includes exercises for strengthening the jaw muscles
- counseling to rectify habits like finger biting
Treatment options for TMJ disorders include:
- Corticosteroid injections
- TMJ arthroscopy
- Modified condylotomy
- Open-joint surgery
Some remedies you can try at home include:
- applying a hot or cold compress to the face
- exercising the jaw muscles and massaging them
- reduce stress
- Sleep on your back
- avoid habits like nail-biting and jaw clenching
Torbram Dental offers Treatment for TMJ, ranging from a small splint that you wear during sleep to orthodontic treatment that improves the alignment of your bite. The splint realigns your jaw to take pressure off the TMJ and also cushions the tooth enamel to reduce wear and tear from nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching. The treatment that is right for you depends on the cause of the TMJ pain.
In certain situations, TMJ can be avoided by adopting or avoiding certain daily habits. These include:
- Keeping jaw and face relaxed
- Avoid biting on hard objects like nails or pens that can be tough on the jaw
- Avoid excessive chewing on gum or foods that can cause jaw tension
- Avoid forcefully cracking your neck; that can cause tension
- Eat a soft diet
- Look for common symptoms and contact a dental health professional
Jaw pain might not appear serious, particularly if it is erratic. TMJ dysfunction, however, can substantially impair daily activities like speaking, chewing, and biting if left untreated. However, this condition can be managed with proper medication, care, and lifestyle changes.