Temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
A temporo mandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is something going wrong with your jaw joint. You can feel your jaw joint by placing your fingertips in front of your ear lobes as you open and close your mouth
When the opening and closing of the jaw are out of alignment or not working correctly it can cause localised pain to the area or spread to include aching of the face, neck and head, and sometimes unusual clicking or grinding noises. In severe cases, the jaw may lock in certain positions.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
- Sharp pains along the jaw line.
- Headaches, especially on waking
- Soreness in the joint
- Restricted movement in opening the jaw
- Difficulty chewing or pain when chewing
- Neck pain that doesn’t resolve with conventional treatment.
What causes TMJ?
- Clenching or grinding habits– including teeth grinding or clenching, lip or cheek biting.
- Malocclusion – when the teeth of the upper and lower jaw meet unevenly.
- Muscle tension– leading to forceful chewing and jaw movements
- Wear and tear of the joint – causing internal problems within the joint, including the cartilage
- Diseases– such as rheumatoid arthritis that affects the jaw joint.
- Trauma– such as whiplash from car accidents, falls or sports injuries.
Basic treatments for TMJ include:
- Eat soft foodsto decrease the amount of chewing required. Avoid hard and crunchy foods, chewy foods and thick and large foods that require your mouth to open wide to fit.
- Wear a splint or night guard.The main difference between splints and night guards is that night guards are only worn at night and splints are worn all the time. Your dentist will discuss with you what type of mouth guard appliance you may need.
- Undergo corrective dental treatments.Corrective treatments including replacing missing teeth and using crowns, bridges, or braces to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem.
- Learning relaxation techniquesto help control muscle tension in the jaw.
- Medication to manage swelling and pain