Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called “TMJ”. Pain is the main symptoms in this condition and it usually occurs because of unbalanced activity,spasm or overuse of the jaw muscles. Discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.
What is the temporomandibular joint?
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the temporal bone at the side of the head—the temporal bone. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joints. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint controls its position and movement.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some TMJ disorders. For many people, symptoms seem to start without obvious reason. Because the condition is more common in women than in men, scientists are exploring a possible link between female hormones and TMJ disorders. The roles of stress and tooth grinding as major causes of TMJ disorders are also unclear. Many people with these disorders do not grind their teeth, and many long-time tooth grinders do not have painful joint symptoms. Researchers also found that stress seen in many persons with jaw joint and muscle disorders is more likely the result of dealing with chronic jaw pain or dysfunction than the cause of the condition. Someone who clenches continually bites on things while awake. This might be chewing gum, a pen or pencil, or fingernails. The constant pounding on the joint causes the pain.
Sign and Symptoms
A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint, is the most common symptom. Other likely symptoms include:
- ♦ Headache and Earache
- ♦ Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- ♦ Jaw muscle stiffness
- ♦ limited movement or locking of the jaw
Symptoms of this condition are mostly temporary; thus, treatment is usually conservative.
- ♦ Early therapy starts simply with resting the jaw, using warm compresses (ice packs at first if an injury is present), and pain medication. Jaw rest can help heal temporomandibular joints. Eat soft foods. Avoid chewing gum and eating hard candy or chewy foods. Do not open your mouth wide. Your doctor may show you how to perform gentle muscle stretching and relaxation exercises. Stress-reduction techniques may help you manage stress and relax your jaw along with the rest of your body.
- ♦ The doctor may fit you with a splint or bite plate. This is a plastic guard that fits over your upper and lower teeth, much like a mouth guard in sports. The splint can help reduce clenching and teeth grinding, especially if worn at night. This will ease muscle tension. The splint should not cause or increase your pain. If it does, do not use it.
- ♦ If conservative and noninvasive techniques do not work, you may consider more invasive techniques. This is carried out by inserting two needles in the temporomandibular joint to wash it out. One needle is connected to a syringe filled with a cleansing solution, and the fluid exits via the other syringe. This procedure can be done in the clinic. Most people find relief from the pain and return to almost normal. Sometimes, pain medication can be injected into the joint in a similar procedure.
- ♦ A last option, surgery, is often irreversible and should be avoided when possible. If necessary, surgery can be used to replace the jaw joints with artificial implants. Our surgeon will evaluate your case in details and give proper explanation.