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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint, frequently called TMJ, is one of the more complex joints in the human body. Today our dentists in Winnipeg explain the three primary kinds of TMJ disorders (TMD) including their symptoms and how to treat them.

What are TMJ Disorders?

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 including moving your jaw to eat, talk and breathe.

People can develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) when they have a problem with their jaw and facial muscles. If you have a TMD you will start to feel pain in this area, and if the disorder advances to a severe state, you might not be able to move the joint.

The Three Main Types of TMJ Disorders

Below are the three main kinds of TMJ disorders:

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.

The Most Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Every kind of TMJ Disorder usually consists of pain in your jaw and face. You may also feel pain in the area around your ears, and an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.

Other symptoms you may experience include:

  • Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds when you open your jaw
  • Problems opening, closing, or clenching your jaw
  • Facial bruising or swelling
  • Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
  • Headaches, dizziness, or pain in your temples

When to See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If home remedies including massaging your jaw and neck muscles, chewing gum, trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and avoiding stress have not been effective, it's time to schedule a dental appointment.

Your dentist will go over your dental history, conduct an in-depth examination of your jaw and bite, and take X-rays to assess before officially diagnosing you with a TMJ Disorder. The treatment they recommend could consist of:

  • Prescription medications
  • Physical Therapy
  • TMJ therapy
  • Dental splints
  • Oral Surgery

Your dentist might be able to help you manage your TMJ Disorder using a combination of attentive dental care and home remedies.

If you are suffering from any TMD symptoms contact our Winnipeg dentists today, we may be able to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan.

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