Diagnosis and Treatment of TMJ Disorder

Diagnosis and Treatment of TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is positioned at the front of each ear, where the skull and lower jaw connect. It is a hinge that facilities movement of the jaws, allowing the aw either move up or down and side to side. This movement is necessary for you to talk, chew, laugh, or even yawn. Try placing your fingers just in front of your ears then open your mouth, to be able to feel the joints.

What is TMJ Disorder

Any problems you experience with your jaw and the muscles in your face responsible for controlling it are known as temporomandibular disorders. People however wrongly refer to the conditions as TMJ, since that is the name of the joint. Dentists in Park Ridge, IL, identify the common causes of TMD to be;

  • Trauma that causes injury to the jaw, TMJ joint or the muscles on the head and neck.
  • Habits that put a lot of pressure on the jaw like teeth grinding and clenching
  • Joint conditions like arthritis
  • Response to stress which might make you tighten or clench teeth or make your facial and jaw muscles to tighten.

Symptoms of TMD

There are a number of symptoms that may be connected to TMJ illnesses. Pain is the most common sign and it is mainly experienced in the grinding muscles and/or jaw joint. Other possible symptoms are:

  • Radiating discomfort in the face, jaw, or neck jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking or popping sound in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or experiencing a sudden and uncontrolled uncomfortable bite.

TMJ Joint Treatments

Before your dentist begins any form of misaligned teeth treatment, a couple of tests and physical exams are necessary to rule out any other possible condition. In the physical exam, your jaw joints are checked for any signs of pain or tenderness. Your dentist will also listen for clicks or popping sounds when you move them and check to see if your bite is okay. Further tests include full facial X-rays, MRI, and CT Scans.

If the TMD symptoms are mild, your dentist may suggest some home treatments to make you comfortable. To help with the pain and any present inflammation, use over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other remedies include;

  • Eating only foods that are soft and easy to chew
  • Doing some exercises to relax and loosen your jaw and face muscles
  • Try hard to avoid extreme jaw movements
  • Using warm or cold packs on your face.
  • Try hard to keep your teeth slightly apart to reduce pressure on the jaw

If that fails, you can try therapy such as the use of stabilization splints. Studies show their efficiency in providing pain relief, but it is not clear how they work. If a stabilization splint is endorsed, it should be applied only for a short time and should not cause enduring changes in the bite. If a splint increases pain or affects your bite, stop using it, and see your health care provider.

Other conservative interventions include radio wave therapy, low-level laser therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), and trigger-point injections.

In severe cases where TMD does not seem to get any better with the above interventions, your dentist will refer you to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon. Surgery is usually the last option since it cannot be done. There are three types of TMD surgery: arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open joint surgery.

Arthrocentesis is a minor surgical procedure used when the jaws are locked. Under general anesthesia, a needle is inserted into the joint and washes it out. A special tool is used to remove any damaged tissue or dislodge a stuck disc in the joint. Arthroscopy on the other hand is a little more invasive. A small incision is made at the front of your ear and then using an arthroscope and a light, the surgeon examines the joint and area around it for problems

Open surgery is usually performed for certain types of TMD where;

  • There is wearing down of the bony structures in the jaw joint
  • Tumors are present in or around the joint
  • The joint is scarred or filled with bone chips

To discuss more TMD disorders and their treatment, visit The Art of Dentistry to have a personalized consultation with our qualified and extensively skilled team.

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