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The Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

June 18, 2021

You have one joint on each side of your jaw called the TMJ or the temporomandibular joint.

It is very much like a sliding hinge joint that connects the lower jawbone to the skull.

The parts of the bones that are associated with these joints are covered with cartilage & are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which maintains smooth movement.

They are found on both sides of the head in front of your ears. It allows you to open & close your jaw, and also to eat and talk.

What are the Common Problems in the Temporomandibular Joint?

For one, you can have pain in these jaw joints or the muscles associated with them.

Secondly, you may have problems moving or controlling them. All the health problems of the jaw are more commonly abbreviated as TMD or TMJ, while TMJ refers to the joint itself. 

These problems can cause tenderness in the joint, facial pain, and problems in moving the joint.

The good news is that the pain and discomfort connected with TMJ are temporary and can be managed by home remedies and nonsurgical treatments.

Surgery is mostly a last resort after conventional methods have failed.

However, for some people, surgery has proved more beneficial in TMJ disorders.

Causes of Temporomandibular Joint

In a majority of cases, the cause of TMJ problems is not identifiable.

Many factors including trauma to the jawbone or joint are responsible, but other health conditions may also contribute to TMJ, or aggravate it, such as:

  1. The disk erodes or moves out of alignment
  2. The joint is eroded or its cartilage is damaged /arthritis 
  3. There is physical damage due to a blow or impact.
  4. Dental treatments
  5. Teeth grinding or clenching
  6. Other lifestyle habits 
  7. Environmental factors
  8. Structural jaw defects by birth

Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Problems

The symptoms of TMD vary according to the severity and reason for your condition.

The predominant symptom of course is a pain in the jaw and connected muscles.

Some people, though, have no pain but just jaw dysfunction other symptoms that are commonly associated with it are:

  • Pain experienced in the face, neck, & shoulders 
  • Stiff or locked jaw 
  • Difficulty in moving the jaw
  • Chronic headache or migraine
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Ear pain, pressure or ringing in the ears, decreased hearing
  • Clicking sound from the bone
  • Malocclusion- change in the shape of TMJ and the alignment of lower & upper teeth.
  • Occasional dizziness & vision issues

Remember that occasional discomfort is common and is not a serious matter.

Several patients become better without any treatment and the problem goes away on its own in several weeks to months.

Also Read: Tooth Jewellery- Yay or Nay?

Diagnosis of Temporomandibular Joint at Kirkland

TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose, however, diagnosis is very important.

Currently, there are no widely accepted tests to diagnose these disorders. Sinus problems or dental issues like toothache can cause similar symptoms to TMJ.

Behavioral, psychological, and physical factors may also combine to cause TMJ.

Other dental conditions, such as toothache or sinus problems can cause similar symptoms. 

In about 90 percent of cases, your dentist can provide important information for the diagnosis of TMJ by your explanation of symptoms, together with a clinical examination of the face and jaw.

He may take x-rays and make an impression of your teeth to see how your bite fits together or advise other x-rays of the TM joints.

Your entire medical history may be examined, so it is important to keep your record at the dental clinic at Kirkland updated.

Additionally, your doctor may refer you to a dentist near you or an ENT specialist to diagnose your condition.

He may see x-ray imaging, CT scan, or MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to eliminate structural defects in the jawbone.

Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint at Kirkland

Commonly the symptoms of TMJ pain & discomfort can be controlled with home remedies and self-practices such as:

  • Eating soft foods, 
  • Over-the-counter medicines, 
  • Hot or cold compress, 
  • Avoiding chewy foods, 
  • Relieving stress and 
  • Doing light jaw exercises.

Treatments that cause permanent alteration in the bite and jaw must be avoided.

It needs to be reversible whenever possible, for instance,  stabilization splints (bite plate, night guard). 

Irreversible treatments include:

  • Extensive dental work
  • Mandibular repositioning splint 
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Surgical procedures to replace parts of the jaw joint. 
  • Corrective dental treatment to improve the bite & align the teeth
  • Arthrocentesis(to clear fluid & debris from the joint)

More complex cases of chronic or exemplary pain mandate a broad treatment in consultation with a team of doctors of neurology, rheumatology, and dentists. 

Conclusion

In America, nearly 10 million people suffer from Temporomandibular joint problems.

TMJ disorders are found more in the women population. It is a treatable disorder, although diagnosis may be difficult.

At Kirkland Premier Dentistry Dr. Gaurav Sharma has 400+ hours of Continuing education from the prestigious AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry) He applies for the latest research & advances in dentistry to provide the best dental care to patients.

Consult your dentist at the Kirkland Premier Dentistry for any such issue.

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