Your temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, is on the most complex joints in your body. Here, we explain the 3 main kinds of TMJ disorders, their symptoms and their treatment options.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is a joint which connects the temporal bone of your skull to your jaw. This hinge is used for everything from eat and talking to breathing.
TMJ disorders (called TMD), happen when there is an issues in the jaw and facial muscles surrounding this joint. You'll start experiencing pain in the area and, if the disorder progresses enough, may end up being unable to move your jaw.
Types of TMJ Disorder
There are 3 main varieties of TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this disorder happens when the cartilage holding the bones in your jaw together wears away or breaks.
During movement, cartilage absorbs shocks and allows your bones to glide over one another. When the cartilage wears away, you'll experience pain and may not be able to move your jaw.
Also called myofascial pain, this disorder involves muscle pain around your jaw. You may also experience pain in your shoulders and neck.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A small disc between the temporal bone and condyle makes opening and closing your jaw smooth. It also absorbs shocks to the jaw during movement.
When someone has this disorder, the workings of their jaw are unbalanced by damaged or dislocated bones.
The displacement of this disc causes the internal derangement of your joint. There is no surgical solution to this issue currently.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
In every instance of TMD you'll experience pain in your jaw. The area around your ears may hurt and it may ache when you eat or speak.
Other symptoms include:
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
- Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
If your at-home remedies like chewing gum, avoiding stress, massaging your jaw and neck, or anti-inflammatory medications haven't helped, you should make a dental appointment.
A dentist will review your medical history, examine your jaw and bite, and take x-ray before making a diagnosis. They may recommend treatments including:
- TMJ therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Physical Therapy
- Prescription medications
Your dentist will be able to help you manage your TMD with a combination of dental care and home remedies.
Are you experiencing headaches, dizziness, or jaw pain?
A dentist can develop a custom treatment plan to help.