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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint or the TMJ as it is also known can experience a number of issues which can affect its use. Here, our Delta dentists share the different types of TMJ disorders, their causes and how they can be treated.

What are TMJ disorders and how do they occur?

The TMJ is the joint connecting the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. You use this hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. While you may only experience pain at first, this can increase until you reach the point of being unable to move your jaw at all.

What are the different types of TMJ disorders?

The 3 types of TMJ disorders that commonly affect patients 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. 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 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 symptoms of TMJ disorders?

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

When is it important to seek treatment for TMJ disorders?

You should try at-home treatments such as chewing gum, massaging your neck or trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for pain relief. If none of these methods are working then it is time to contact your dentist in Delta.

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.

Do you need an examination to address pain and dizziness? Request an appointment with our Delta dentists today.

(604) 594-2484