What Is TMJ Disorder and How Is It Treated?

What Is TMJ Disorder and How Is It Treated?

Nov 01, 2020

Do you experience any jaw pain whenever you yawn or chew? There is a high probability that your temporomandibular joint is out of order. If this is the case, the problem can be chronic and debilitating and can deter you from enjoying your day.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) links the skull to your jawbone. If the joint is out of order, eating and talking can be daunting tasks. Statistics show that TMJ syndrome affects women more than men. It is also prevalent in adults between 20 and 40 years. However, our dentist in Berlin and Cromwell, CT, can treat it. TMJ therapy in Berlin and Cromwell comes in different ways, but before we look into that, let’s understand more about TMJ syndrome.

Understanding TMD

Though the name is a mouthful, the temporomandibular joint is an important joint that is located on either side of your jaw. This joint operates like a sliding hinge that links your skull to your lower jawbone. The joint allows you to move your jaw from side to side and up and down. In other words, this joint enables you to eat, yawn, and talk.

Sometimes the joint can be inflamed or injured, causing a condition called temporomandibular disorders (TMD). However, some people have mistakenly referred to this disorder as TMJ, an acronym for the joint.

What Are the Causes of TMD?

A myriad of factors can cause TMD. However, there are instances when the cause of the disorder is not known. Here are some of the causes of TMD:

Intra-Articular Causes

  • Inflammatory conditions. These conditions can occur due to direct trauma such as a blow to the jaw or indirect trauma such as teeth grinding, heavy chewing, and clenching of the jaw.
  • Internal derangement. This simply means that there are structural changes in the joint.
  • Arthritis. Degenerative arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or infectious arthritis can affect the TMJ.
  • Hypermobility. What this means is that there is excessive movement of the jaw. When this happens, you will hear clicking sounds. At times you might feel pain.

Extra-Articular Causes

  • Fractures. This can occur at the line of fusion of the halves of the mandible or jaw, known as the mandibular symphysis.
  • Muscle spasm. Spasms can limit jaw movement.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

In some cases, the symptoms are temporary and tend to go away without any treatment. Others may experience chronic symptoms that can even last several years. The symptom that is the most prevalent is pain. Other than that, you might experience:

  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Tenderness or pain in your shoulders, neck, jaw, or face
  • Trouble chewing
  • A tired feeling on your face
  • Swelling on either side of your face
  • Popping, grating, or clicking sounds when you close or open your mouth
  • Pain that radiates around the ear when you talk, chew, or open your mouth
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Jaws that get stuck in the closed or open position

If you experience the clicking or popping sounds without limitation of movement or pain, then you might not need TMJ therapy in Berlin and Cromwell, CT.

How Is TMD Diagnosed?

Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, like sinus issues, tooth decay, gum disease, or arthritis. So, a thorough physical examination and history will be able to shed some light on the issue.

Our dentist will check for tenderness or pain or even clicking sounds at the joint. Also, your jaw will be inspected to make sure that it’s moving as it should. Your bite will also be tested to see if your facial muscles are functioning properly.

X-rays will be taken so that our dentist can get a clear view of your jaw and teeth to rule out other dental issues. A CT scan can be used to get a detailed view of your jawbone. Our dentist will use an MRI to view the soft tissue around your jaw.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

If you are lucky, the symptoms will disappear after some time. However, if the symptoms persist, our dentist may recommend the following:

Medical Treatment

Our dentist may prescribe any of the following medications, coupled with other therapies to alleviate pain:

  • Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. Our dentist will prescribe pain medication if the drugs you buy in your local drug store don’t alleviate the pain.
  • Muscle relaxants. These can be used to relieve pain that can be caused by muscle spasms.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs can be used to control bruxism and relieve pain.

Therapies

Our dentist may recommend any of the following therapies:

  • Mouthguards or oral splints to aid in the movement of the jaw
  • Physical therapy that can help you strengthen your jaw

Surgery

When the above therapies do not work, then surgery becomes necessary. Some of the viable options available:

  • Injections
  • TMJ arthroscopy
  • Open joint surgery
  • Arthrocentesis

TMD can cause you not to perform your daily activities. You can contact our dentist at Advanced Dental to schedule an appointment if you need TMJ treatment.

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