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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint, often known as the TMJ, is one of the human body's most complex joints. In this blog, our Airdrie dentists explain the primary kinds of TMJ disorders (TMD), including the symptoms and treatments associated with each.

TMJ Disorder

The TMJ is the joint that connects the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. You use this hinge to move your jaw to eat, talk, and breathe. 

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.

Types of TMJ Disorder

These are the three main kinds of TMJ disorders: 

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Often known as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder develops when the cartilage that connects the round ends of the two bones in your jaw wears away or breaks.

Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide easily over each other. Swelling and pain arise when the cartilage erodes. You also might not be able to move your jaw 

Muscle Disorders

Also called myofascial pain, muscle disorders consist of discomfort and pain in all the muscles that control 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.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

You will experience pain in your face and jaw with all of the TMJ disorders listed above. The area surrounding your ears could also hurt, and you’ll experience an ache when you open your mouth to talk or eat. 

Here are some other symptoms:

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

When to Call Your 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:

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

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

Schedule an appointment with our Airdrie dentists today if you are suffering from jaw pain, dizziness, or headaches.

We are accepting new patients in Airdrie! We invite you to join the Blunston Dental family today.

(403) 912-9378