What is TMJ?

If you have come across this content, then most probably you are looking for answers about TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint and the disorders associated with it. TMJ is the joint found on each of your jaws which acts as the hinge connecting your lower jaw to your skull. TMJ allows you to move your jaw when you speak and eat. While some individuals experience no problems with their jaws, many are also living with TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. 

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 10 million people in the US are suffering from TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. These are a group of conditions wherein a person excessively grinds the teeth resulting in tenderness and pain in the jaw area, difficulty moving the Temporomandibular joint, and wearing of teeth. 

Symptoms and Causes of Temporomandibular Joint disorders

People with TMJ disorders may experience the following symptoms:

  • Facial and neck pain
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty moving the jaw
  • Locking of jaw
  • Strange sound around the jaw
  • Malocclusion
  • Swelling and tenderness on the side of the face

There is no definite cause of TMJ disorders. However, experts believe that the following factors may play a role in the development of TMJ disorders.

  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • Certain dental treatments
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Genetics
  • Jaw trauma
  • Facial muscle stress

Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint disorders

TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose as their symptoms are similar to other dental conditions. There is also no test intended for diagnosing TMJ disorders. The best thing to do is to see a specialist in the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) for proper diagnoses. 

Specialists will examine your jaw and surrounding areas for more symptoms. You may be asked to have an X-Ray, CT scan, or MRI on the jaw area too. 

TMJ disorders can be managed with home remedies such as the following:

  • Applying heat and cold compress in the jaw area
  • Soft food diet and avoiding foods that require thorough chewing
  • Doing jaw exercises to reduce stiffness and pain
  • Managing stress
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relief such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs

However, if your condition doesn’t improve with these self-care medications, then your doctor may recommend other treatments such as prescribing you with muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory treatments, using bite guards to prevent grinding of teeth, botox, and other therapies.

For severe cases of TMJ disorders, you may be advised to undergo surgery and other corrective procedures such as arthrocentesis or the removal of fluid in the jaw, joint surgery, and corrective dental treatment to treat excessive grinding. 

In summary, TMJ is treatable. If you have Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, make sure to follow your routine dental checkup to prevent complications like wearing tooth enamel. Your dentist will be able to suggest ways to manage your symptoms or when undergoing surgery is necessary. In this case, make sure to ask your doctor about the benefits of the surgical procedure as well as its risks. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Southpoint Quality Dental in Fredericksburg or Stafford VA.