Temporomandibular Joint Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Sep 03, 2021

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Temporomandibular joint acts as a sliding hinge that connects your jaw and skull. If you experience pain around the area, you might have a temporomandibular disorder.

The cause of the temporomandibular disorder is yet to be determined. Sometimes, genetics, injury, and arthritis might be the causes of the jaw disorder. Also, people who clench their jaws or grind their teeth might be at risk of developing a temporomandibular joint disorder.

Most of the time, pain associated with the jaw condition is temporary and manageable through less invasive procedures. If the jaw condition is severe, the dentist might recommend surgery. However, your dentist or oral surgeon will recommend surgery as the last resort if conservative measures fail.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

Parts of the bones that interact with the TMJ joints are covered by cartilage and separated by shock-absorber disks. The cartilage and shock-absorbing disks keep the movements in TMJ joints smooth. If you experience pain around the joints, below are some of the potential reasons:

  • The shock-absorber disk erodes and moves out of position
  • Joint damaged by impact
  • The joint cartilage is damaged as a result of arthritis

Some of the factors that might increase your risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorder include:

  • Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
  • Chronic bruxism
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Jaw injury

Symptoms

When you have a temporomandibular joint disorder, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Tenderness on your jaw
  • Facial pain and aching around the ears
  • Locking at the joint, making it strenuous to open or close your mouth
  • Clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth to chew

If you experience the above symptoms, you should consult your dentist for diagnosis and treatment. However, if you experience a clicking sound or grating sensation when chewing without pain, our dentist wouldn’t recommend temporomandibular joint disorder treatments.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When diagnosing TMJ disorder, our dentists will listen to your concerns and examine your jaw. During the examination, the dentist will feel and listen to your jaw when you open and close your mouth. The dentist will then observe the range of motion of your jaw and press the areas around the jaw to identify sites of discomfort.

The dentist might order further tests if they notice a problem. Below are some of the tests:

  • Dental x-rays
  • CT scan to provide detailed images of your jaw and teeth
  • MRI to identify issues around the disc and cartilage

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Treatments

In some scenarios, the TMJ disorder might go away without treatments. However, you should consult your dentist to prevent the risk of further complications. At our clinic, you can get the following TMJ treatments:

Muscle Relaxants

The dentist will recommend using such drugs for some weeks to manage pain caused by muscle spasms. Jaw stretching exercises can also be helpful if you are experiencing pain due to muscle spasms.

Pain Relievers and Anti-Inflammatory Medications

To reduce pain and sensitivity, the dentist might prescribe some strong pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help prevent swelling.

Oral Splints

People experiencing pain can wear small plastic appliances on their teeth. Such oral appliances offer pain relief. However, the benefits of such devices are not well understood.

Physical Therapy

Together with exercise to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, the dentist might recommend the use of ice, moist heat, and ultrasound. Also, biofeedback would help treat TMJ disorder.

Education

If you are at risk of developing TMJ disorder, the dentist will enlighten you on some of the factors that increase your chances of developing the condition and how to prevent it.

Some of the factors habits that might aggravate TMJ disorder include:

  • Jaw clenching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Biting fingernails
  • Leaning on your chin

For severe temporomandibular disorder, you might require complex treatments such as dental restorations, cortisone injections, flushing, and orthodontics. In rare cases, you might require surgery for TMJ cure. However, the dentist will recommend surgery if other treatments for TMJ disorder fail.

Where to Find Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Near You

Are you experiencing TMJ symptoms and need treatments? You can visit us at Family Dental Care in Calumet City for diagnosis and treatment. Also, if you have symptoms similar to TMJ disorder but not experiencing pain, you can consult our dentist. The dentist will examine your jaw and teeth and develop a custom treatment plan.

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