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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is a complex joint in the face that allows for the movement of your jaw bone. This joint is able to experience injuries and disorders like other joints in the body. Here, our Grande Prairie dentists share some of the different types of TMJ disorders as well as the causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What do TMJ disorders affect?

The TMJ connects your jaw to your face just in front of your ears. This joint is used for everything you do with your mouth including talking, breathing and eating.

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.

What are the most common types of TMJ disorders?

The three main types of TMJ disorders that are diagnosed are:

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. As this cartilage erodes you will notice that movement will become more difficult and you may experience pain and swelling.

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. The pain may radiate down your neck, shoulders and back.

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 as it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during movement.

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 typical symptoms of TMJ disorders?

No matter which type of TMJ disorder you experience you will feel pain in your jaw. You will feel pain throughout your face and ears as well as an increase in pain when you do tasks that require the use of your jaw.

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 should you contact a dentist about possible TMJ disorder symptoms?

If you have been using the recommended at-home remedies without relief then you should contact your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.

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 diagnosed with TMJ disorder then your dentist will help you develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.

Are you suffering from the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders? Request an appointment with our Grande Prairie dentists today.

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