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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Commonly referred to as TMJ, the temporomandibular joint is one of our body's most complex joints. Today, our Burnaby dentist lists three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), symptoms and treatment options. 

What is TMJ Disorder?

Your TMJ is a joint connecting. your skull's temporal bones (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. This hinge is used to do everything from eating, talking and moving your jaw to breathing. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when there are issues with your jaw and facial muscles. You may start to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to severe TMD, you may eventually be unable to move the joint. 

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are actually three main types 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

This soft, small disc is located between the condyle and temporal bone, making the opening and closing of the jaw easy and smooth. This disc is also vital as it absorbs shocks to the jaw that occur during movement. 

When an individual suffers from a joint derangement disorder, the jaw's inner workings are disrupted or unbalanced due to a damaged bone or dislocated disc. 

A displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, there are no surgical solutions to this issue.

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:

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

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:

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

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

Are you suffering from jaw pain, dizziness or headaches? We may be able to develop a custom treatment plan to help. Book an appointment with our Burnaby dentist today.

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