The TMJ (temporomandibular joint), is one of the most complex joints in the human body. In this blog, our Edmonton dentists discuss the three most common types of TMJ disorders (TMD), their symptoms, and the treatment options available.
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 perform daily tasks such as moving your jaw to eat, talk, or breath.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when there is a problem with your jaw and facial muscles. You will start to feel pain in the area and if the disorder advances to a severe state, the joint might eventually not be able to move.
Types of TMJ Disorders
There are actually three main types of TMJ disorders:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Usually called osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder develops when the 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.
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 occurs 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.
The Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder
With every type of TMJ Disorder, you probably feel pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears could hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.
Other symptoms could include:
- Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When You Should See Your 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 go over your dental history, conduct a comprehensive examination of your jaw and bite, as well as take X-rays to evaluate your condition before officially diagnosing you with a TMJ Disorder. Your dentist might recommend the following treatment options:
- TMJ therapy
- Prescription medications
- Physical Therapy
- Dental splints
- Oral Surgery
Your dentist will be able to help you manage your TMJ Disorder using a combination of attentive dental care and at-home remedies.