TMJ refers to the hinge connecting your jaw to your temporal bones of the skull. The temporomandibular joint enables your jaw to move up and down and sideways, allowing you to easily chew, laugh, talk, and perform other tasks with your mouth. However, because of its work nature, this joint is susceptible to frequent injuries and other complications, all of which are commonly referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
While there is still no definitive cause of TMD, dentists believe that most of its symptoms are due to injuries to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or the joint muscles. This problem can also result from TMJ’s excess pressure from grinding and clenching of teeth, arthritis, stress, which causes your facial and jaw muscles to tighten, and the soft cushion or the disc’s movement between the ball and socket of the joint. If this problem is not treated soon enough, it can develop into a significant oral complication.
Treating TMJ Disorder
For you to receive the right TMJ treatment, you need to get a proper diagnosis first. So, your doctor will examine you by analyzing the symptoms and performing the necessary CT scans and X-rays to determine the problem’s severity. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain and tenderness in the joint area, face, shoulders. and neck
- Pain in the joint area and around the ear when you laugh, chew, speak, or yawn
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when opening and closing your mouth
- Swelling on the side of the jaw joint
- Sudden uncomfortable bites
- Tired face
The type of treatment your doctor recommends depends on the cause and severity of the TMJ disorder. In some instances, the symptoms will go away without treatment. But if they persist, your physician will recommend various treatment options. For example, you may be given several medications, including pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants.
Together with medication, your doctor will recommend several non-drug therapies, such as physical therapy, oral splints, mouth guards, and counseling. If the problem persists, your doctor might suggest several corrective procedures, such as arthrocentesis, injections, TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open-joint surgery.
Your dentist should also advise you on avoiding injuries to your TMJ and the simple home treatments you can try before going to the hospital. It is also important to discuss the potential advantages and drawbacks of each type of TMJ treatment with your doctor.