TMJ Disorder - Health Center

TMJ Disorder

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

TMJ Disorder – Basic Overview

The TMJ Disorder affects the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint). The TMJ acts like a sliding hinge connecting the jawbone to the skull. TMJ Disorders cause intense pain to the jaw joint and amongst the muscles which control the movement of the jaws. The exact cause for the occurrence of TMJ Disorder is not known. However, the pain could be caused due to a multitude of problems such as arthritis or jaw injuries. People suffering from TMJ Disorder tend to clench or grind their teeth.

In most of the cases, the pain and discomfort associated with the TMJ Disorders can be managed with the help of self care and non surgical treatments. However, the severe cases may need surgical treatment. 

Causes of TMJ Disorder 

The Temporomandibular Joint works like a hinge action with the help of sliding motions. The parts of these bones which interact with the joint are covered by a layer of cartilage and are separated with the help of a small shock absorbing disk. This disk helps to keep the movement smooth.

The TMJ Disorders are caused due to the following factors:

  •       The eroding of the disk or the irregular alignment of  the disk
  •       The damage of the cartilage caused due to arthritis.
  •       Damage of the joint by a sudden blow or other hard impact

In most cases, the cause of TMJ Disorders is unknown. 

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders:

The following are the major signs and symptoms of TMJ Disorders:

  •       Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  •       Pain in and around the ear
  •       Difficulty chewing or discomfort during chewing the food
  •       Facial Pain
  •       Locking of the joint which makes it difficult to open or close the mouth

TMJ Disorders are also known to produce a clicking sound or a grating sound when a person opens or closes the mouth. It is recommended to seek medical care immediately if you experience persistent pain and tenderness along the jaw line or if you have problems closing your jaw completely. 

Tests and Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders:

A physical exam is adequate in order to determine the disorder. During the test, the dentist may:

  • Listen to or feel the jaw while opening and closing the mouth
  • Look out for the range of motion of the jaw
  • Press the areas around the jaw in order to look for sites of pain or discomfort.

If your doctor feels that there is a problem with the teeth, an x ray can be done in order to get detailed images of the bones which are involved around the joint. A MRI Scan could be done in order to look for the signs of problems around the joint’s disk. 

TMJ Disorders – Treatment and Drugs

In many cases, no treatment is needed as the symptoms tend to go away on their own. However, if the symptoms persist, it is recommended to seek treatment. The following are the major options:

Medications: Along with other non surgical options, the following medications are used in order to ease down the pain associated with the TMJ Disorder

Pain Relievers: Over the counter pain relieving medications are not effective in order to combat the pain associated with TMJ Disorder. The doctor may prescribe strong pain relievers.

Tricyclic Antidepressants: These medications such as Amitriptyline are used for pain relief.

Muscle Relaxants: These kind of drugs are used for a few days or weeks in order to help relieve the pain caused due to TMJ Disorder

Sedatives:  In order to deal with night time teeth clenching and grinding, the doctor may suggest a sedative such as Clonazepam.

Therapies: The following non pharmaceutical therapies are used in order to deal with TMJ Disorder:

Bite Guards: People suffering from Jaw pain can benefit from wearing a soft device which is inserted over the teeth.

Counselling: Education and counselling can be used in order to understand the factors and behaviours which can increase the pain. For instance, teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on the chin and biting the fingernails are some of the major factors.

Surgery is used if other methods do not help. If the jaw pain does not resolve with the help of medications and is caused due to a structural problem within the joint, the doctor may suggest surgery in order to replace or repair the joint. 

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