If you suffer from pain in the temporomandibular joint connecting your jawbone to your skull by acting as a sliding hinge, you confront a challenging problem difficult to determine even by doctors or dentists. You have two TMJ joints on both sides of your jaw. TMJ dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint cause pain in the jaw joint and the muscles managing jaw movement.
The pain you experience results from various factors such as genetics, jaw injury, or arthritis. For example, if you frequently grind and clench your teeth, you may experience pain from TMJ disorders, although many people affected by bruxism never develop this problem.
TMJ disorders are temporary and relieved by self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Therefore, recommendations for surgery are usually the last resort after conservative methods have failed.
What Symptoms Can You Experience with TMJ Disorders?
The symptoms of TMJ pain vary and may include pain or tenderness in the jaw, pain in one or both the temporomandibular joints, difficulty chewing or pain, facial pain, locking of the jaw joint making it challenging for you when opening or closing your mouth, and aching pain in and around your ear.
TMJ disorders also generate clicking noises or grating sensations when opening your mouth for eating. However, if you don’t experience any limitation of movement with your jaw, you may not require treatment from a TMJ specialist.
When to Contact a Medical Professional for Treatment?
If you experience persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, you must seek treatment from a TMJ specialist or the dentist near you. The professionals discuss the possible causes and treatments for the problem affecting you.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Your temporomandibular joint is a combination of a hinge action and sliding motions. Cartilage covers the bones interacting with the joint separated by a tiny shock-absorbing disk to keep your jaw movement smooth. You experience TMJ disorders when the shock-absorbing disk erodes or moves out of its correct alignment, the cartilage covering the joint incurs damages due to arthritis, or injuries to the joint are incurred by impacts or blows. Regrettably, the exact causes of TMJ dysfunctions aren’t clear.
What Are the Risk Factors Associated with TMJ Disorders?
Various factors increase the risk of developing TMJ disorders. For example, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, jaw injury, long-term grinding or clenching of teeth, connective tissue diseases of some kinds cause problems affecting the temporomandibular joint.
Diagnosing the Causes of Your Discomfort
If you visit the dentist nearby inquiring about the causes of your discomfort, they listen to and feel your jaw asking you to open and close your mouth. They also observed the range of motion in your jaw passing around areas of the jaw to identify signs of pain or discomfort.
Further tests become necessary if the dentist suspects an issue. In such cases, they may prescribe dental x-rays to examine your teeth and jaw, CT scans to view explicit images of the bones affected in the joint, and MRI scans revealing problems with the joint’s disk.
TMJ disorders are also diagnosed using TMJ arthroscopy by inserting a thin tube with a camera to view the area for help in determining a diagnosis.
Sometimes you find relief from TMJ disorders without any treatment. However, if your symptoms persist, the dentist recommends various treatment options combining more than one simultaneously.
Besides other nonsurgical treatments, you can receive help from over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. However, the dentist prescribes more potent pain relievers for a limited time is over-the-counter medicines don’t provide relief.
You may also find relief from tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants in low doses helpful for pain relief and control bruxism and sleeplessness.
Dentists recommend oral splints or mouth guards as a remedy for TMJ disorders. You can find relief from jaw pain by wearing a soft or firm device inserted over your teeth. Although oral splints provide comfort, the reasons why these appliances prove beneficial aren’t understood.
Physical therapy to get over pain in the temporomandibular joint with exercises stretching and strengthening your jaw muscles, or applying moist heat and ice are also therapies used during TMJ/TMD treatment.
The dentist also recommends complementary treatment because alternative medical therapies help manage pain associated with TMJ disorders. For example, they may suggest acupuncture, relaxing techniques, and biofeedback using electronic devices to monitor the tightness in specific muscles to help you practice effective relaxation methods.
TMJ disorders are not life-threatening but undoubtedly lower your quality of life. Therefore seeking treatment from a dentist near you or a TMJ specialist is essential to find relief from the discomfort.