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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is one of the most complicated joints in the body. Our Windsor dentists discuss the three main types of TMJ disorders (TMD), as well as their symptoms and treatment options.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the joint that connects your skull's temporal bones (just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. From moving your jaw to eating, talking, and even breathing, you rely on this hinge.

TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders) are caused by problems with your jaw and facial muscles. You start to feel pain in the area, and if the disorder progresses to a severe level, the joint may become immobile.

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are three main types of TMJ disorders:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

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 and allows your bones to glide easily over one another during movement. Pain and swelling will occur as the cartilage erodes, and you may be unable to move your jaw.

Muscle Disorders

Muscle disorders, also known as myofascial pain, cause pain and discomfort in all of the muscles that control the function of your jaw. Your jaw muscles, shoulders, and neck muscles may also hurt.

Joint Derangement Disorders

The jaw opens and closes smoothly and easily thanks to a soft, small disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle. This disc is also crucial because it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint as it moves.

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. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.

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 You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If at-home remedies like stress reduction, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, and using over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) haven't worked, you should schedule a dental appointment.

Before providing an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder, your dentist will review your dental history, perform a thorough examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays to assess. He or she may suggest the following treatments:

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

Are you experiencing headaches, dizziness, or jaw pain? We may be able to offer a referral. Book an appointment with our Windsor dentists today.

(519) 977-6453