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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is one of the most complex joints in your body. Here, our Winnipeg dental team explains the three main kinds of TMJ disorders—also known as TMD—including their symptoms and treatments.

What is TMJ Disorder?

Your TMJ is the joint that connects the temporal bones of your skull—found below your temple in front of your ear—and your jaw. It is a hinge that you use to do everything from moving your jaw to eating and 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 Disorder

There are three main kinds of disorders found in the TMJ:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Joint degenerative disorder, more commonly known as osteoarthritis, occur when the cartilage holding the round ends of two bones together wears down or breaks 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 called myofascial pain, muscular disorders generally involve discomfort and pain in the muscles that control your jaw's function. This pain may also extend to your 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 you are suffering from a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of your jaw were disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated or damaged bone. 

The displacement of the disc causes an internal derangement of the TMJ. As of right now, there is no surgical solution to the issue.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With each type of TMJ disorder, you'll likely experience pain in your face and jaw. The area around your ears may hurt and you will likely feel an ache when you open your mouth to speak or eat. 

Other symptoms may include:

  • 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
  • Facial bruising or swelling

When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If remedies you can try at home—like chewing gum, avoiding stress, taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or massaging your neck and jaw—haven't worked, you should make a dental appointment as soon as possible. 

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
  • Oral Surgery
  • Dental splints

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

Are you experiencing jaw pain, dizziness and headaches? Our dentists may be able to develop a custom treatment plan tot help with your condition. Book an appointment with our Winnipeg dentists today.

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