Know all about Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) Disorders

Posted On Oct 10, 2022

Dr. Abhay Taranath Kamath

Consultant - Oral & Maxillosurgery Surgery

KMC Hospitals–Mangalore

Temporomandibular joint Disorders treatment in Mangalore

The jawbone and the skull are connected by the temporomandibular joint, which acts as a sliding hinge. Temporomandibular joints are located on both sides of the face, just in front of the ears. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders cause pain in the jaw joint and within the muscles responsible for controlling the jaw movement. It affects the jaw joints along with the surrounding muscles and ligaments. 

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are basically a class of degenerative musculoskeletal conditions involving morphological and functional deformities. These conditions may be acute or chronic, and the pain may be mild as well as severe. Research studies have revealed that TMJ disorders have affected 25% of the total population. TMJ disc dislocation accounts for approximately 70% of all cases. Book an appointment at our Dental medicine hospital in Mangalore.

What causes temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders?

TMJ disorders occur due to injuries in the jaw joints, but their most appropriate causes are still not determined. Research studies have recommended some factors, such as combinations of genes, psychological and life stressors, as the reason for pain persistence to be the cause of TMJ disorders. It is more common in women than in men, so researchers are determining the differences in the anatomy and mechanisms between females and males. Some other causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Physical injury

  • Arthritis

  • Grinding or cleaning the teeth during sleep

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Dental surgery

  • Infections

  • Stress

  • Acute trauma

  • Inappropriate chewing

Other causes may include genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors, poor diet, and lack of sleep. To know more about TMJ, consult with our Dental medicine specialist in Mangalore.

Types of TMJ Disorders

Painful TMJ disorders include:

  • Dislocation of a disc

  • Damage to joint cartilage due to arthritis

  • Any accident may cause joint damage

  • Fractures

  • Structural problems

Symptoms of TMJ disorders

TMJ disorders affects individuals belonging to the age group of 20–40 years, more commonly affecting women. Some common symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Pain in jaw bone

  • Headaches

  • Pain in ear, neck, and shoulders

  • Difficulty opening the mouth wide

  • Muscle and jaw joint pain when chewing

  • Stiffness in jaw

  • Jaw movement is restricted or locked

  • Hearing loss

  • Dizziness

  • Painful clicking, popping, or grating within the jaw joint while opening and closing the mouth

  • Change in the alignment of upper and lower teeth

  • Ringing sensations in the ear

  • Toothache

  • Swelling on the side of the face

How are TMJ disorders diagnosed?

Any dysfunction in the TMJ is diagnosed by undergoing dental check-ups. Healthcare providers usually diagnose TMJ disorders by:

  • Observing motion range during the opening and closing of the mouth

  • Pressing on the face and jaw is done to identify the region of discomfort

  • Observe the feeling of the person around the jaw joints as you open and close the mouth.

Some imaging tests are conducted to view the jaw joints and determine the level of damage in the jaw joints. These tests include:

  • Panoramic X-rays

These are the types of dental x-rays that represent a broader overview of the teeth, jawbone, and TMJs.

  • Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans

It aims for capturing several images of teeth, jaws, facial bones, and sinuses in the form of 3-D images.

  • MRI scans

It helps to view the soft tissues in and around the jaw joints. The images obtained from MRI scans represent the position of the disk, inflammation, and possible jaw locking. It helps healthcare providers determine the appropriate function and condition of the TMJ disc.

Management and Treatment 

Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorders go away without undergoing any treatment. If the symptoms persist, the doctors recommend undergoing various treatment options such as:

  • Medications

The healthcare providers recommend medications which are pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants.

  • Therapies

It mainly includes non-drug therapies such as: 

  • Oral splints and mouth guards are soft and firm devices that are inserted over the teeth to protect the mouth.

  • Physical therapy: It includes exercises for stretching, strengthening jaw muscles, and other related exercises for the jaw.

  • Counseling: It helps in understanding the factors and behaviors that reduce pain.

  • Surgical and other procedures

Some surgical approaches include

  • Arthrocentesis:

  • TMJ arthroscopy

  • Modified condylotomy

  • Open-joint surgery

Care for patients with TMJ disorders

  • Practicing correct posture to reduce neck and facial pain is key.

  • Keeping the teeth slightly apart helps relieve pressure on the jaw.

  • Placing the tongue on the palate behind the upper front teeth to avoid clenching and grinding in the daytime

  • Learning relaxation techniques to control the muscle tension in the jaw is a must.

Dr. Abhay Taranath Kamath

Consultant - Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

KMC Hospital, Mangalore

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