The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that attaches your jaw to your skull. In today's post, our Kenora dentists explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms, and treatment options.
What is TMJ Disorder?
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 do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
Types of TMJ Disorder
There are 3 different types of TMD:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder happens when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together breaks or wears away.
This cartilage allows your bones to easily move over one another and acts as a shock absorber to protect the joing. If the cartilage erodes, it can cause pain and swelling and you may not be able to move your jaw as easily.
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 your skull bone and your jaw bone 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, it means that this disc has become dislocated or damaged and it impedes the proper function of the jaw. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.
Symptoms of TMD
With every type of TMD, 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 TMD 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 TMD. There is a range of treatments available for TMD ranging from physical therapy to surgery. Some things your dentist may suggest include:
- TMJ therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Prescription medications