Tempero-mandibular joints or TMJ as they are called, are a type of paired joints, one on each side of the face, just in front of the earlobe. These joints are a part of your lower jaw or mandible, connecting it to the skull bone. TMJ is the ones that enable us to open and close our mouth, chew food up and down and towards our sides of the mouth. This joint works like a ball and socket, so it enables multiple free movements of the mandible. The number of movements a joint is able to perform, the weaker is the joint. So they are subjected to a lot of stresses, which can cause discomfort in certain patients. Any vague pain in the face or around the tooth, or pain around the ear while chewing or eating food, or pain on yawning could be symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.
Any injury to the jaw, temporal-mandibular joint, face or muscles of the head and neck can lead to TMJ disorders. Loosening or flabbiness of muscles or bruxism of teeth grinding habit can lead to TMJ disorder as they cause repeated stress to the joints. People with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis tends to get TMJ disorder as a secondary condition.
A vague pain or acute pain radiating from face, jaw, and neck.
Locking of the jaw while opening and closing of the mouth
Stiffening of the jaw muscles.
Painful joints with clicking or popping sound, when opening and closing the mouth.
The difference in chewing pattern or intercuspation of the teeth in upper and lower jaw.
Since the symptoms are very vague, it’s a bit challenging to diagnose TMJ disorders. It’s very important to rule out sinusitis or any gum infections or tooth decay-causing similar pain. Removable and fixed dentures or crowns, if not occluding with the opposing teeth as desired, can also lead to stress at the TMJ. Impacted wisdom teeth can rarely cause similar conditions and pain. It is best to consult a dentist and checked clearly. He or She would suggest x-rays, clinical tests to assess TMJ pain. MRI and Computer imaging may be required to have a clearer idea of the joint and surrounding areas.
Most form of the treatment involves conservative measures.
Cold compressive packs, aided with some physiotherapy helps most of the time
Other measures including wearing night guards, mouth protectors, and other orthodontic treatments can be helpful in some patients.
In very severe cases, surgeries are indicated.
It is best to consult a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment planning.
So why suffer the pain, call us for an appointment at Oris Dental Center.