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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

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Did you know that one of the most complex joints in your body is in your face? The temporomandibular joint or TMJ helps you do everything with your mouth from eating to breathing and more. Here, our Coquitlam dentists share the main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), as well as the causes, symptoms and treatment options.

TMJ Disorder: What is it?

The TMJ is a joint that connects your jaw to your temporal bones in order to allow the movement needed in your jaw for things like talking, 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, which can lead to the inability to move your jaw.

The Different Types of TMJ Disorders

The main types of TMJ disorders are:

Joint Degenerative Disorders (Osteoarthritis)

Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder happens when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together breaks or wears 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 (Myofascial Pain)

Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. This pain can spread from your jaw affecting other areas such as your neck, shoulders and back.

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 essential as it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during movement.

When an individual has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated disc or damaged bone.

This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Unfortunately, there is no surgical option at this time for those suffering from this condition.

The Symptoms That Accompany TMJ Disorders

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. You will feel pain in your face, especially around the ear. You may also experience pain when you use your mouth for any reason.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Facial bruising or swelling
  • 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

When Professional Dental Care is Needed

If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, or trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.

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 the following:

  • TMJ therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Oral Surgery
  • Dental splints
  • Prescription medications

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

If you are suffering from the symptoms associated with TMJ, please request an appointment with our Coquitlam dentists today.

Treat yourself to a healthier smile. Contact our practice today!

(604) 931-5550