TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is one of our body's most complex joints. Today, our Winnipeg dentists list three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), their symptoms and treatment options. 

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear). This hinge helps you do everything from moving your jaw to talking, eating and even breathing. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You will likely start to experience pain in the area and the joint may eventually be unable to move if the disorder progresses to a severe state. 

Types of TMJ Disorder

The three main types of TMJ disorders include:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Most often referred to as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder happens when the cartilage that holds the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together fractures or wears away. 

Cartilage allows your bones to glide easily over each other. It also absorbs shocks that occur during movement. When the cartilage erodes, swelling and pain happen, and you may not be able to move your jaw. 

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.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.

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 You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, 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

Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Are you suffering from dizziness, headaches or jaw pain? We may be able to create a custom treatment plan to help. Book an appointment with our Winnipeg dentists today.

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