The Truth about Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The problems you are experiencing within your jaw and facial muscles can be linked to TMJ disorders. What are TMJ disorders? What are the symptoms? Find out

To understand TMJ disorders, it is important to know what the temporomandibular joint is. This is a hinge connecting the jaw to your skull’s temporal bones. The bones are positioned at the front of each of your ears. The TMJ is responsible for the upward, downward, and sideways movement of the jaw, thus it controls speech, chewing and yawning.

Having understood the concept, it is easy to decipher that TMJ disorders originate from general issues that may affect this joint or surrounding area. It is important to note that TMJ refers to the joint itself while TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) is the name used to refer to the disorders associated with the joint.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

This disorder does not ambush you. It could be hereditary and you might actually have it soon after birth. One of the pointers is mouth breathing which may be resultant of a misaligned jaw.

It is yet to be established what really causes these disorders. Dentists, however, believe that any problems around the joint may cause symptoms. For instance, injuring the joint, jaw, or neck and head muscles during a fight is a possible cause for TMJ disorders. Here are some of the other causes.

  • Clenching or grinding of teeth which exerts an enormous amount of pressure on the temporomandibular joint.
  • Any movement of the disc sandwiched between the ball and socket sections of the joint.
  • Arthritis occurring at the joint
  • Stress can cause tightening of the jaw and facial muscles or even teeth clenching.
  • Misaligned bite between the lower and upper jaws
  • Uneven biting surfaces resulting from lost or severely worn out teeth.

Symptoms of TMD

You may experience some discomfort and severe pain.t this may occur temporarily or last over a span of many years. TMD may eat on one side of your face or both of them. Studies indicate that compared to their male counterparts, women make up the most number of victims. Additionally, the disorder is commonly found in individuals aged 20 to 40.

Let us have a look at some of the other symptoms.

  • Tenderness or pain in the neck, shoulders, face, ears, and the area around the TMJ whenever you speak, chew, or widely open your mouth.
  • ‘Lock’ or stuck ‘jaws’ when you open or close your mouth
  • Grating, popping, or clicking sounds whenever you move your jaws. You may or may not experience pain.
  • Face tiredness
  • Difficulties in chewing or an uncalled for an uncomfortable bite
  • Swelling on the affected part of the face

Be on the lookout for other indicators such as toothaches, neck aches. Headaches, pain in the upper shoulder, tinnitus, and hearing problems.

TMD Diagnosis

It is difficult for your dentist to establish if you have TMD just by judging from your symptoms as conditions like gum disease and tooth decay have the same symptoms. A physical exam is necessary for a reasonable diagnosis.

The dentist will check for pain or tenderness in your jaw and ask if you hear any sounds when moving them. He or she will also see to it that your jaw is fully functional and does not lock. Furthermore, testing your bite and inspecting your jaw muscles is necessary for a proper diagnosis. Lastly, X-rays of your full face may need to be taken so the doctor can view your TMJ, teeth, and jaws to see if there are any further issues. An MRI or CT scan may also need to be done.

Home Remedies for TMD

To relieve your TMD symptoms, your doctor may recommend these remedies:

  • Cold or moist heat packs: Apply a cold compress on the affected side of the face and the temple for at least ten minutes. If your dentist approves, do some jaw stretches and then put a warm washcloth over the area for at least five minutes.
  • Consume soft foods: This is an effort to help you chew less. Add mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, fish, yogurt, vegetables, and fruits to your diet. Make sure to cut the foods into tiny pieces. Avoid hard and chewy foods.
  • Avoid extreme movements of your jaw: Do not yawn or chew unnecessarily. Do not yell or sing at all costs.
  • Avoid the ‘hand under the chin’ posture: This reduces facial and neck pain.
  • Ask your dentist about relaxation techniques that can help relax the jaw

Dangers of Untreated TMD

  • Additional Medical Conditions: because most people that suffer from TMD tend to self-medicate to alleviate pain, they are likely to develop other medical conditions. The self-medication may cause addictions. For instance, left untreated, TMD sufferers may resort to drug abuse and alcoholism. It is worth mentioning that TMJ symptoms are high contributors to insomnia and sleep disturbance.Another notable condition that may result from TMJ symptoms is depression which has a negative influence on relationships, job performance, and general life quality. Also, malnutrition and sleeping disorders may result from untreated TMD. Why is this so? To evade the problem, some people may tend to eat only liquids or soft foods or nothing at all. It shouldn’t reach this point because there is a non-surgical treatment that is safe and can permanently cure the disorder.
  • Poor Dental Health: The longer you dodge TMJ therapy in Pearland, the more your dental health problems pile. The characteristic clenching and grinding of teeth in TMD patients can result in teeth fracturing and wearing down of the enamel. Because TMD patients tend to use one side of their jaw more than the other, swelling and asymmetrical muscle growth may occur on this site giving the individual an uneven appearance.

At Harmony Dental, we understand your pain. Our team of professionals offers TMJ therapy in Pearland in a convenient environment. Do you want TMJ therapy near you, call us and book an appointment? Our team can’t wait to see you.