Do you have pain or tenderness in the joints of your jaw? You may have TMJ Disorders.
The temporomandibular or TMJ joint is the joint that is present in your skull.
This joint connects your mandible or lower jaw to the skull.
Moreover, this joint is present on both sides of your head in front of the ears.
It allows your jaw to open and close, thus, enabling you to speak and eat.
Many doctors and dentists use this abbreviation to refer to a group of health problems related to your jaw.
However, it is becoming more commonly abbreviated as TMD or TMJD.
It is important to note that these disorders cause tenderness at the joint, facial pain, and difficulty moving the joint.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 10 million Americans suffer from TMJD.
Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
The causes of TMJ disorders are unknown in most cases.
Trauma to your jaw or joint can play a role in its development.
There are other health disorders that may also contribute to the development of TMJD.
Arthritis, erosion of the joint, habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, or structural jaw defects present at birth.
Some of the other factors that doctors and dentists associates with the development of TMJ disorder include:
- use of orthodontic braces
- poor diet
- lack of sleep
- poor posture that puts strain on the muscles of the neck and face
- continuous or prolonged disease
However, it is important to note that they have not been proved to cause TMJD.
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Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
The severity and cause of this condition are two factors that determine the symptoms.
One of the most common symptoms of TMD is a pain in your jaw and the surrounding muscles.
Other symptoms that usually occur with these disorders are as follows:
Pain that you can feel in the face or neck, stiffness in the jaw muscles, and limited movement of your jaw.
Moreover, locking of the jaw, clicking or popping sound from the TMJ site, and shift in the jaw or malocclusion are the symptoms.
Malocclusion causes changes in the way your upper and lower teeth align.
However, it is important to note that the symptoms may show up on just one side of the face or both.
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Risk Factors of TMJD
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing the temporomandibular joint disorder.
Different types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, and jaw injury.
Long-term or chronic grinding or clenching of teeth and specific connective tissue disease that causes problems with the temporomandibular joint.
Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders
Your doctor or Arabic female dentist will discuss your symptoms and examine your jaw.
Moreover, they will listen to your jaw when you open or close it, observe the range of motion in your jaw, and press on the area around your jaw to identify pain sites or discomfort.
Thus, if your doctor it dentist suspects any issues, they may order:
Go for Dental X-rays to examine your teeth and jaw.
CT scan to provide a detailed image of the jawbones.
MRI to reveal issues with the disk of the joint or surrounding soft tissue.
Moreover, TMJ arthroscopy can also help to diagnose a TMJ disorder.
During this procedure, your doctor will insert a small thin tube or cannula into the joint space.
It also contains a small camera or arthroscope to view the area and help to diagnose the cause.
Treatment of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorder can go away without treatment, in some cases.
However, if the symptoms persist, then your doctor will recommend a variety of treatment options.
More often, you can have these options at the same time.
Let’s discuss the treatment options as follows:
With other non-surgical treatments, your doctor or dentist may recommend the following pain relief medications.
Pain Relievers and Anti-inflammatories
If OTC pain medications are not enough to relieve TMJ pain, your doctor will prescribe stronger pain relievers for a limited time.
These are prescription strengt ibuprofen.
Medications like amitriptyline for depressions can help in low doses.
In some cases, it can also help to relieve pain, control bruxism, and sleeplessness.
Muscle relaxants can help relieve pain due to TMJ pain that occurs due to muscle spasms.
However, it is important to use these medications for a few days or weeks.
Non-Surgical Therapies for TMJD
Some of the following non-drug therapies for TMJD are as follows:
Along with certain exercises during physical therapy helps to stretch and strength, these treatments include ultrasound and moist heat and ice.
Learning and counseling can help to understand the factors and behavior that can aggravate your pain, therefore, you can avoid them.
Examples are teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on your chin, or biting fingernails.
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Surgical and Other Procedures
When the above procedures do not help to treat TMJ pain, your doctor or dentist may recommend the following surgical procedures:
Injections: Corticosteroids injections into the joint can help.
Injection botox or botulinum toxin into the jaw muscles for chewing may help to relieve pain with TMJ disorders.
TMJ Arthroscopy: In some cases, arthroscopy can help to treat various types of TMJ disorders, like open-joint surgery.
For this, your doctor will insert the cannula into the joint space and insert an arthroscope and small surgical instruments for surgery.
It has fewer risks and complications than open-joint surgery, however, it has some limitations as well.
Modified Codylotomy: This one addresses the TMJ indirectly with surgery on the mandible.
However, it does not alter the joint and can be helpful for treating pain and in case you experience locking of the joint.
Arthrocentesis: It is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into the joint.
The fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts.
Open-Joint Surgery: In case the jaw pain does not resolve with more-conservative treatments, it may be structural problems in the joint.
In such a case, your doctor or dentist may suggest this surgery to repair or replace the joint.
However, this surgery involves more risks than other procedures and you should carefully consider this surgery and discuss the pros and cons.
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Alternative Medications for TMJ Disorders
With the help of complementary and alternative medications, you can manage chronic pain that you experience with TMJ disorder.
Biofeedback: Electronic devices that monitor the tightness of the specific muscles can help to practice effective relaxation techniques.
Acupuncture: Specialists trained in this technique treat chronic pain.
During this procedure, they insert hair-thin needles at specific locations on your body to relieve pain.
Relaxation Techniques: Slowing your breathing and taking deep, regular breaths can help to relax tense muscles.
These help to reduce pain in TMJ joints.
Exercises for TMJ Disorders
An important thing to consider for TMJ exercises is it is unclear how these exercises help to relieve pain.
However, they help to strengthen jaw muscles, relax the jaw, stretch the jaw, reduce jaw clicking and promote healing.
Moreover, according to a study, performing these exercises also helps to increase mouth opening range more than using a mouthguard.
An important thing to keep in mind is to always consult your doctor or dentist before using any of these exercises.
Let’s learn some of these exercises.
Relaxed Jaw Exercise
Rest your tongue gently on the top of your mouth behind your upper front teeth.
Make sure to allow your teeth to come apart while relaxing your jaw muscles.
Goldfish Exercises or Partial Opening
For this exercise, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and one finger in from of the ear where your TMJ site is.
Put your middle or pointer finger on your chin and crop your lower jaw halfway and then close.
Make sure that you exert mild resistance but not pain.
Do this exercise at least 6 times daily.
Place or push your shoulder back and chest up.
Pull your chin straight back creating a double chin.
Hold for 3 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Preventing TMJ Disorders
To prevent the TMJ disorder, you cannot do much,
However, you may be able to reduce the symptoms by lowering your stress levels.
You can also treat this disorder with the help of at-home remedies.
These include changing the posture and reducing stress.
In case your condition is due to chronic or long-term issues like arthritis, lifestyle changes may not be enough.
Arthritis causes water and tear of joints over time and increases pain.
Moreover, preventing causes of TMJD like grinding or clenching can help.
Counseling for stress and anxiety, exercise, and diet can also help to relieve pain.
Outlook for TMJ Disorders
The outlook for a TMJ disorder depends on its causes and you can successfully treat them at-home remedies like changing posture pr reducing stress.
If the cause of your condition is arthritis, lifestyle changes can help as it wears down the joint over time and increases pain.
With the help of lifestyle habits, along with medications you can manage and ease the pain. However, for aggressive treatment, you need to talk to your doctor or dentist about the options.