Introduction: What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. There are many different causes of TMJ disorders, but the most common is overuse or injury to the muscles and ligaments that support the jaw. This can happen from teeth grinding (bruxism), clenching your teeth, poor posture, stress, or an injury to the head or neck. TMJ disorders can be very painful and make it hard to chew, talk, or even open your mouth. If you think you might have a TMJ disorder, see your dentist or doctor for an evaluation. They will ask about your symptoms and physically examine your head and neck.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
TMJ has numerous symptoms, including pain in the jaw, neck, and shoulders; clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw; headaches, and dizziness. The most common symptom is pain, ranging from a dull ache to sharp, excruciating pain. Many people with TMJ find their symptoms worse in the morning, as the joint has had all night to stiffen up. TMJ treatment often includes over-the-counter pain medication and ice packs, but more severe cases may require physical therapy or surgery.
Most people with TMJ disorders don't need surgery
Most people with TMJ disorders don't need surgery. The main symptom of TMJ is pain, which a number of things can cause, including teeth grinding, clenching, and stress. Treatment for TMJ typically includes a combination of home remedies and self-care, such as avoiding hard or chewy foods, practising relaxation techniques, and using over-the-counter pain relievers. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe medication or physical therapy. Surgery is only recommended in severe cases when other treatments haven't worked.
What causes TMJ?
Many things can cause TMJ dysfunction, such as arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching, injury to the jaw or TMJ, or stress. When the muscles and ligaments that support the TMJ are not working correctly, it can cause pain in the joint and clicking or popping sounds when you move your jaw. TMJ dysfunction can be treated with various methods, depending on what is causing it. If it is due to arthritis, pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed.
How is TMJ diagnosed?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and discomfort in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. No one test can diagnose TMJ disorders. The diagnosis is based on symptoms, medical and family history, physical examination, and imaging tests. During the physical examination, your doctor will feel any tenderness or swelling in the jaw joint and muscles. They may also ask you to move your jaw in different directions to see if there is any pain or clicking. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be ordered to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
How is TMJ treated?
TMJ is treated differently depending on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs may be enough to ease the pain. If the pain is more severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication or muscle relaxants. In some cases, a mouth guard or splint can be worn at night to help keep the jaw in place and prevent clenching or grinding. Surgery is only considered a last resort for treating TMJ.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small, complex joint in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement.
TMJ disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including clenching or grinding your teeth, arthritis, injury, or stress. Many people with TMJ disorders do not need treatment. However, if your symptoms are severe or persist for more than two weeks, you may want to see your doctor or dentist for evaluation and treatment. Various treatments are available for TMJ disorders, depending on the cause and severity of your symptoms.