What Is TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome? How Is It Treated?
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the maxilla (upper jaw bone) to the mandible (lower jaw bone). The joint is a sliding ball and socket joint with a disk between. The primary muscles in the area are the masseter and the temporalis. It allows the jaw to open, close and to move laterally.
What the TMJ Does?
This joint is used throughout the day, especially in biting, chewing, talking, and yawning. Among the others, the Temporomandibular Joint is one of the most frequently used joints in the human body.
Common Causes of TMJ Syndrome
TMJ syndrome, otherwise known as myofascial pain dysfunction and Costen’s syndrome, can be a complex condition. It can involve inflammation of the:
- Ligaments, or
- Structural damage to the bones
- Disk or joint.
Because the muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws.
The primary cause of TMJ can be overuse caused by chewing gum, the grinding or clenching of teeth, or stress. So, those of you have been really into chewing gums, it’s time to understand what can that habit lead you to! Injury to the area or misaligned teeth or jaw can also be the cause of the problem. TMJ is largely a chronic disorder, caused over time, but it can occasionally present itself as acute, particularly when caused by an accident.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
Common signs and symptoms include headaches, ear pain, dizziness, a full feeling in the ear, sounds similar to grinding, crunching, popping or ringing sounds which may or may not be accompanied by pain.
Assessment and Tests involved in TMJ
A test to help determine if a client is struck with the TMJ syndrome:
- Place one or two fingers against the triangle area of the ear.
- Move them slightly to the anterior and ask the client to open and close their jaw.
If any pain presents, or if there is any accompanying popping, grinding or clicking of the joint, it is advisable to refer to a general practitioner or dentist. Getting the problem diagnosed at the earliest can not only be wise, but it can also keep you away from pain!
The client will need to be made aware of any clenching or grinding of teeth and stress that they experience. Clients should also be advised to avoid opening their jaw too widely.
Note: Many suggests that a psychologist can help during such times with stress management. You can also practice meditating for the same. The secret with stress management is simple – you keep yourself accumulated into chores and stop thinking about the pain. Sometimes watching your favorite TV show or a movie can help you relax quickly!
If you are trying something similar, tell us about your experience in the comments.
How is TMJ Treated?
Treating TMJ involves passive opening and closing of the jaw, massage of the muscles involved including trigger points, and heat/cold therapy. Ischemic pressure to the area will help to inflame the area and encourage healing. Anti-inflammatory or steroids may be prescribed by a GP, or dental work/surgery may be necessary for structural conditions. Occlusal therapy, where a custom made acrylic appliance which fits over the teeth is prescribed for night use, may also be used. Left untreated, TMJ may lead to permanent wearing of the teeth, the disk or the bones. Damage to the bones could also lead to osteoarthritis in the joint, or an inability to open or close the jaw, otherwise known as lockjaw.
Quick Remedy for Treating TMJ
Massage has been shown to be highly beneficial in the treatment of TMJ. Techniques such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and relaxation massage have all shown positive results. The practitioner should focus his attention on the pectoralis minor, sternocleidomastoid, scalleens, temporalis, and mastoid muscles in particular.
Brier Creek Smiles Dentistry strongly recommends visiting a general practitioner, dentist or psychologist would be advantageous. Also, you must try utilizing heat/cold therapy where applicable. Avoid clenching your jaws, grinding your teeth, jawing gum, eating hard-to -bite foods or opening your mouths too wide.
Are you in search of the best dentist in and around Durham? Our Dentist Dr. Tuan is one of the best. The Map below shows where we are located. For appointments, you can use click this -> SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT or ring us at +1 919-367-1850.
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