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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Often referred to as TMJ, the temporomandibular joint is one of our body's most complex joints. Today, our dentists in Port Moody explain three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD) and symptoms, along with treatment options.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ connects your skull's temporal bones (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge is used to help you do everything from moving your jaw to speaking, eating and breathing. 

If there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur. You start to feel pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe condition, you may eventually be unable to move the joint. 

Types of TMJ Disorder

Here are the three main types of TMJ disorders: 

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Most commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder occurs when cartilage holding the round ends of your jaw's two bones together wears away or fractures 

Cartilage allows your bones to glide easily over each other and absorbs shocks during movement. When cartilage erodes, swelling and pain will happen, and you may not be able to move your jaw.

Muscle Disorders

Muscle disorders are also known as myofascial pain and involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles that control your jaw function. You may also experience pain in your jaw muscles, neck and shoulders. 

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.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

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:

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

When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.

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:

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

Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Have you noticed symptoms of jaw pain, headaches or dizziness? We may be able to create a custom treatment plan to help. Book an appointment with our Port Moody dentists today.

New Patients Always Welcome

Looking for a dentist in Port Moody? We're happily accepting new patients at our dental clinic! Contact us to get started today. 

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