TMJ Disorder

stress-6The temporamandibular joint, or TMJ as it’s more commonly known, connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skulls, which is before the ear. People have two TMJs – one on each side of the jaw and they include muscles, nerves, blood vessels and bones. Movements of the jaw, such as eating food, are co-ordinated by the TMJ.

If there is a problem with this area then flexibility will be affected. Pain may also be experienced when speaking, yawning or eating, and for some even when the jaw is relaxed. For some intense pain may be felt, often irregular, but constant for some and able to last many years.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder

A disorder of the TMJ is likely to be very noticeable as it could lead to pain during things we take for granted every day, such as talking, eating and yawning.

Brunette Woman in Pain

There are a number of symptoms to look out for with TMJ disorder, the most common being pain. These include:

  • Intense discomfort in the jaw, face, as well as possibly the neck and shoulders.
  • Swelling to the face or mouth.
  • A clicking noise when you move the jaw joint.
  • Problems swallowing.
  • Muscle spasms may arise.
  • Ear pain, including a ringing in the ears, is another symptom.
  • Queasiness, headache or light-headedness.

TMJ Diagnosis – “The clench test”

To test the intensity of the pain the dentist may administer “the clench test”. What is? Well, the patient will be asked to bite down and if there’s pain in the teeth or jaw it’s likely to be TMJ disorder, as suspected.

The dentist will generate moulds of the bite to assess the disorder fully, with factors such as uneven teeth a potential source of the disorder.

Treatment of TMJ disorder

If you are diagnosed with TMJ it’s unlikely you will need surgery. Instead, there are a number of ways to correct the problem.

The most widely used option is occlusal equilibration. This involves the restructuring of the teeth surfaces used in biting to rectify the disorder. Dentists may decide to give you a mouth guard to guard the teeth – in particular from grinding when you’re asleep.

Hair-lossIf surgery is required, in extreme cases, the procedure involves two needles being put into the TMJ – one to clean out the joint with the other to collect the exiting fluid.

First aid treatment can also be used to provide short-term pain relief from the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Many of these measures are matters of common sense. For example, avoid excessively using the jaw, try anti-inflammatory drugs and avoid foods which require heavy chewing. Other recommended temporary methods include applying hot or chilly packs to the face to provide relief from the pain. Wearing a gum shield at night is another sensible option worthy trying.

However, in all cases it’s strongly advisable to see a dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis, advice and action.

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