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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is one of the body’s most complex joints. Here, our Warman dentists explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms and treatment options.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the joint that connects your skull's temporal bones (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge is used for everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking, and even breathing.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when your jaw and facial muscles become strained. You begin to feel pain in the area, and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may become immobile.

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are actually three main types of TMJ disorders:

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.

Your bones can move smoothly over one another because cartilage absorbs shocks as you move. You may not be able to move your jaw as the cartilage deteriorates and causes pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

Muscle Disorders

Muscle disorders, also known as myofascial pain, cause pain and discomfort in all of the muscles that control the function of your jaw. You may also feel pain in your jaw muscles, shoulders, and neck.

Joint Derangement Disorders

The jaw opens and closes easily and smoothly because of a small, soft disc that lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. Due to the fact that it cushions the jaw joint from shocks caused by movement, this disc is also crucial.

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.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With every type of TMJ Disorder, 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 TMJ Treatment

If at-home remedies such as stress reduction, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, and trying over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) haven't worked, you should schedule a dental appointment.

Before making an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder, your dentist will review your dental history, perform a thorough examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays. He or she may suggest the following treatments:

  • TMJ therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Oral Surgery
  • Dental splints
  • Prescription medications

Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Are you experiencing headaches, dizziness, or jaw pain? We may be able to develop a custom treatment plan to help. Book an appointment with our Warman dentists today.

(306) 933-3221