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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

When you think about the function of your face and jaw, you may not realize that the temporomandibular joint is actually one of the body's most complex joints. Here, our Swift Current dentists talk about what happens when you experience TMJ disorders along with the causes, symptoms and treatment options.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ Disorder or TMD)

The TMJ is the joint that sits from your temporal bone all the way done to your jaw and you use it for everything you do that involves your mouth, yes, even breathing.

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 main types of TMJ disorder?

The 3 main types of TMJ disorders that you may suffer from include:

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 or 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 condition is also known to cause pain in your neck, shoulders and upper 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. Unfortunately, there are no current surgical options for treating this condition.

What are the symptoms that are experienced with TMJ disorders?

No matter which type of TMJ disorder you experience you will have some form of face or jaw pain. This may be most prominent when you are eating or talking.

Some of the other symptoms that you can experience with TMJ disorders are:

  • 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 a good idea to visit the dentist?

If you have been trying a variety of at-home remedies for pain such as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) but haven't experienced any success, please contact your dentist.

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 will utilize a variety of treatment methods to not only help relieve your pain but also to treat the overall condition.

If you would like some help in diagnosing the cause of your jaw pain, request an appointment with our Swift Current dentists today.

(306) 778-9100