What does TMJ disorder affect?
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. You use this hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
What are the different types of TMJ disorder?
If you are experiencing TMJ disorder then it will be 1 of 3 main types which include:
Joint Degenerative Disorders or 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 / 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
The opening of your jaw is smooth thanks to a small round disc. This disc is also important as it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint which occur as you use it.
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.
What are the symptoms of TMD (TMJ disorders)?
With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. Along with pain opening your mouth, you may also feel pain or discomfort around you ears and temple.
Other potential signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders 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
How can your dentist help with TMJ disorders?
If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, or trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, 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:
- TMJ therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Prescription medications
There may be a combination of therapies, treatments and medications that can help treat the symptoms of TMD that you are experiencing. Your dentist will be able to offer more information.