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TMJ Disorders: Causes & Treatment

The temporomandibular joint, also called TMJ, is one of the body’s most complex joints. Our New Minas dentists explain three of the types of TMJ disorders, symptoms and treatment options.

What is a TMJ Disorder?

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 from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.

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 Disorders

There are actually three main types of TMJ disorders:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disorders occur when the cartilage that binds the ends of each bone 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 someone develops joint derangement disorder, the jaw is unbalanced and not working properly because the disc is dislocated or the bone is damaged.

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:

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

When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Disorder Treatment

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

Your dentist will familiarize themselves with your dental history, perform an examination of your bite and jaw and take x-rays to get a better understanding of what your diagnosis might be. The treatment your dentist recommends may include:

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

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

Is your TMJ bothering you? Contact our New Minas dentists today to book an examination of your jaw and discuss your treatment options.

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Looking for a dentist in the Annapolis Valley? We're happily accepting new patients at our dental clinic in New Minas! Contact us to get started today.

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