Temporomandibular joint disorders are conditions that affect the jaw joints, ligaments, and surrounding muscles. They cause discomfort and pain in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. The reasons for TMJ disorders are numerous. For instance, it can be triggered by a life trauma, conditions of arthritis, an improper bite, etc. Common symptoms include facial pain, jaw tenderness, earache, or headache. Continue reading to find out more about TMJ disorders and their treatment options.
What Are TMJ Disorders?
The temporomandibular joint is located just in front of your ears, on both sides of the face. It facilitates movement of the lower jaw and helps in speaking and chewing.
TMJ disorders refer to any dysfunction associated with the temporomandibular joint. This disorder causes tenderness at the joint along with facial pain. Consequently, it becomes difficult to move the joint, and the person feels pain while eating or chewing.
TMJ dysfunction occurs when ligaments and muscles around the jaw joints become irritated or inflamed. This condition can be acute or chronic, leading to severe, mild, or moderate pain.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder:
TMJ disorders come with a variety of symptoms. The symptoms vary from person to person in severity or number. However, the common symptoms are listed below.
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw.
- Severe facial pain.
- Difficulty while chewing.
- Aching pain in the ear.
- Difficulty in opening or closing the mouth.
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints.
- Limited jaw movement.
- Stiffness in the muscles.
- Ringing in the ear.
- Tooth wear.
Causes and Risk Factors:
The actual cause of TMJ disorders is unknown to date, as scientific researchers are still finding substantial evidence. However, many factors contribute to its development, for instance, injury to the jaw, trauma, arthritis, genetics, etc. Some key characteristics of developing the disorder are listed below.
- Growth disorders.
- Structural jaw issues present at birth.
- Habitual clenching or grinding of teeth.
- Erosion of the joint.
- Stress, etc.
Some risk factors also contribute to the development of this disorder. These are:
- Joint hypermobility.
- Female hormone: estrogen (some studies reveal that estrogen might cause TMJ disorders).
- Poor posture that affects the face and neck.
- Prolonged stress.
Tests For Diagnosing TMJ Disorders:
- X-rays (of the teeth and jaw).
- CT scan (of the jaw).
- MRI (of the jaw).
- Home treatments (eat soft foods, reduce daily stress, use ice to reduce swelling, etc.).
- Medication (antidepressants, muscle relaxers, corticosteroids, etc.).
- Therapies (heat therapy, stretches, acupuncture, cooling therapy, etc.).
The Bottom Line:
TMJ disorders are usually not life-threatening. However, if left untreated, the symptoms can worsen and become chronic. It can impact a person’s life and contribute to significant pain and discomfort. Moreover, it can cause serious health issues, including inflammation and chronic pain. Therefore, a person must get treated for TMJ disorders or find ways to prevent them.
This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition