TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

One of the most complex joints in the body is the TMJ or temporomandibular joint which helps to move your jaw allowing you to eat, talk, breathe and more. Here, our Dawson Creek dentists discuss the different types of TMJ disorders (TMD), what the symptoms are and the treatment options that may be recommended to you.

What is TMJ disorder and what does it affect?

The TMJ is the joint that attaches your temporal bones to your jaw allowing your mouth to move. This joint plays a part in talking, eating, and even breathing.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. If this condition is allowed to continue untreated it will eventually leave you unable to move your jaw.

What are the main types of TMJ disorder (TMD)?

When it comes to TMJ there are 3 main types that patients usually experience:

Joint Degenerative Disorders / Osteoarthritis

This type of TMJ is more commonly referred to 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 be left with the inability to open or close your jaw.

Muscle Disorders / Myofascial Pain

Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. This type of pain is also known to affect other areas including your shoulders and neck.

Joint Derangement Disorders

A soft, small disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle is used to smoothly open and close your jaw. You can also thank this small disc for absorbing the shock that would otherwise occur every time you move your mouth.

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.

What are the common symptoms of TMJ disorders?

With every type of TMJ Disorder, the pain will likely be centred in and around your face and you will experience pain when moving your mouth and jaw.

Some of the other typically seen symptoms with TMJ might be:

  • 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

What can a dentist recommend for TMJ disorders?

If you have tried to relieve the jaw pain at home with pain medications or massaging your jaw and neck then you may want to consider calling your dentist for an examination.

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

If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders your dentist may be able to help you with a combination of medications, at-home treatment recommendations and professional dental services.

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms listed above? Request an appointment with our Dawson Creek dentists today.

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