TMJ – An introduction
Temporomandibular Jaw disorder – conveniently called the TMJ, is one of the few dental conditions affecting the movement of Jaws. It is an extremely painful and severe dental disorder and should be immediately communicated to a trusted dentist. At All Care Dental, We experience a good number of patients suffering through TMJ. Other jaw problems include osteonecrosis of the jaw (bone loss in the jawbone) and problems with your bite caused by misaligned jaws. TMJ affects more women than men and mainly the 20 to 40 age group.
TMJ – The disorder
The major areas of impact in TMJ are the nerves, muscles and temporomandibular joint. The most important symptoms of TMJ include – pain, difficulty in chewing, smiling and talking and generally, impaired flexibility of the jaw. There are two temporomandibular joints which lie on either side of the jaw and contain muscles, blood vessels, nerves and bones. These joints help to co-ordinate movements of the jaw such as opening and closing the jaws and are a vital part of your facial anatomy.
Dentists attribute some of the major reasons for the TMJ disorder as – excessive gum chewing, teeth grinding (bruxism) and an injury to the jaw.
TMJ – The symptoms
TMJ causes pain around the jaw, head and neck which can also spread to the shoulders. This pain can be intense or chronic and persist for many years. Most people notice pain in their jaw when they talk, chew food or yawning, but, it can also occur when the jaw is at rest.
Other symptoms include:
• Clicking sound in the jaw
• Ringing noise in the ears
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Unable to fully open the jaw
• Jaw becomes misaligned when opening or closing
• Facial swelling
• Pain in the jaw, side of the face, head, neck and shoulders.
• Muscle spasms
• Unable to bite as easily as before
• Feeling unwell, e.g. nausea and dizziness
TMJ is usually diagnosed with a ‘bite test’ – During this test, you will be asked to bite down or clench your teeth and if you experience any pain whilst doing so, will be diagnosed with TMJ. He or she may take an impression of your jaw with a mould containing soft putty which you bite into. This will help to confirm this diagnosis.
TMJ – The treatment
Our expert group of dentists will sit through various sessions with you and prescribe a variety of treatment options available which do not require surgery and can be undertaken at home. These include:
• Utilizing a mouth guard: this will protect your teeth and prevent them from becoming worn down due to teeth grinding.
• Occlusal equilibration: This is a corrective procedure and involves the fitting of a device to correct any misalignment in the jaw. The aim is to ensure that the jaw closes properly.
• Splint: similar to a mouth guard
• Orthodontics, e.g. a brace
The last option is surgery which is exercised only if there is a structural problem within the jaw or if any of the above fail to ease the TMJ disorder.
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