TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint often called TMJ, is among the most complex joints in the human body. In this blog, our Parksville dentists talk about three of the most common types of TMJ disorders (TMD), their symptoms, and the ways they can be treated.

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 when you move your jaw to eat, talk, and breathe.

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 three main types of TMJ disorders:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Most often referred to as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder develops when the cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together wears away or breaks.

Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and lets your bones easily glide over each other. Pain and swelling will occur when the cartilage erodes, and you might not be able to move your jaw.

Muscle Disorders

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 the temporal bone and the condyle makes the opening and closing of the jaw smooth and easy. This disc is also important because it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that occur during movement.

When someone has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced because of a damaged bone or a dislocated disc.

This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. At the moment, there are no surgical solutions to this problem.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you will probably suffer from pain in your face and jaw. The area surrounding your ears could hurt, and you’ll most likely experience an ache when you open your mouth to talk or eat.

Other symptoms could include:

  • Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when you open your jaw
  • Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples
  • Facial bruising or swelling
  • Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
  • Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw

When Should I See My Dentist for TMJ Treatment?

If implementing at-home remedies such as gently massaging your jaw and neck muscles, chewing gum, avoiding stress, and trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) has not helped alleviate your discomfort you should schedule a dental appointment.

The dentist will go over your dental history, conduct an in-depth evaluation of your jaw and bite, as well as take X-rays before officially diagnosing your TMJ Disorder. The treatment options they may recommend could include:

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

A dental professional should be able to help you manage your TMJ Disorder using a combination of attentive dental care and home remedies.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above such as jaw pain, dizziness, or headaches, our Parksville dentists might be able to help. Contact our dental office today to schedule an appointment.

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