TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is a complex joint in the body. Our dentists in North Vancouver are here to explain three main types of TMJ disorders, or TMD, including their symptoms and treatments.

About TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is a joint that connects your skull near your temple to your jaw, and you use it to move your jaw when you eat, talk, or breathe.

TMD occurs when there's a problem with your jaw and facial muscles, leading to pain and difficulty moving the joint.

In severe cases, the joint may become immobilized.

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are 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.

Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide easily over each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may 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 small cushion-like disc located in the jaw joint helps make opening and closing the jaw smooth and absorbs shock during movement.

But when this disc is dislocated or damaged, it can disrupt the jaw's movement and balance, causing a joint disorder.

Unfortunately, there is currently no surgery available to fix 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

Treatment Options

If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, or 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 TMJ Disorder. The treatment he or she recommends may include:

  • 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.

If you have more questions about TMJ disorder, contact our North Vancouver dentists today.

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