The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is one of the body’s most complex joints. Here, dentists from our 5 downtown Toronto locations (Richmond-Adelaide Dental, College Park Dental, Brookfield Place Dental, King-York Dental and Bay Adelaide Dental) explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms and options for treatment.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ is the joint that connects the temporal bones of your skull (found in front of your ear and below your temple) to your jaw. You use it to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. It begins as a pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint might be unable to move at all.
Types of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorders fall into three main types:
Joint Degenerative Disorders
Known as osteoarthritis most often, this joint degenerative disorder happens when cartilage joining the round ends of the two bones in your jaw breaks or wears away.
Cartilage lets your bones to smoothly glide over one another, absorbing shocks during movement. When the cartilage erodes, you'll experience pain and swelling in the area, and you may lose mobility in your jaw.
Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling your jaw's function. You may also experience pain down to your shoulders and neck along with your jaw muscles.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A soft, small disc found between the temporal bone and the condyle makes opening and closing your jaw both smooth and easy. This important disc absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during its movement.
When an individual has a joint derangement disorder, this disc is dislocated or a bone is damaged: disrupting the inner workings of their jaw.
This displaced disc causes disturbance to the normal function 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 probably experience pain around your jaw and face. The area surrounding your ears may also experience pain, and you’ll when you open your mouth to eat or talk, your jaw will ache.
Other symptoms of TMJ disorder may include:
- Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
There are various at-home remedies to TMJ disorder such as chewing gum, avoiding stress, gently massaging your neck and jaw, trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). If all of these have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.
Your dentist will assess your condition by reviewing your dental history, thoroughly examining your jaw and bite, and taking x-rays before providing a diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. The treatment recommended by he or she might include:
- TMJ therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Physical Therapy
- Prescription medications
Your dentist can assist you in managing your TMJ Disorder with combinations of attentive care and home remedies.