What is TMJ or TMJ syndrome?

TMJ syndrome is a kind of disorder in the temporomandibular joint. It is a joint that connects the skull to the jaw. It is a hinge present in front of each ear. It helps us to move our jaw and complete functions like eating, chewing and talking.

When there is a problem in the temporomandibular joint and muscles, Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ arises.

What are the causes of TMJ?

It can happen due to a variety of causes. Some of them are:

  • Injury to the bone and muscle that connects the skull with the jaw due to a fall or blow is a primary cause of TMJ.
  • It happens in some people due to the grinding of teeth or clenching of teeth.
  • Sometimes this condition is also due to arthritis.
  • People with a family history of TMJ disorder are also prone to it.
  • It can also happen when the disc moves out of the ball and socket.
What is TMJ disorders? Its diagnosis and treatment?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

People with TMJ experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw.
  • Pain around the ear.
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joint.
  • Pain while eating and chewing food.
  • Aching facial muscles.
  • Inability to close the mouth or open it due to locking of the joint.
  • Jaw popping or making a clicking sound.

If anyone has the following symptom, they should see the doctor immediately who would examine the problem and decide the treatment for it.

What is the diagnosis of TMJ?

The dentist usually examines the area of pain by touching it and then by listening to the clicking of the bones while opening and closing of the mouth. He may suggest an X-ray, and CT scan knows about the condition of the bones and joints, if the doctor cannot understand the cause of the TMJ, then he might suggest an MRI.

What are the treatments given for TMJ?

Sometimes the symptoms of TMJ goes away with time, even without treatment. So the doctors initially use traditional mild procedures to treat it. The following remedies are usually given in the beginning:

  • Precautionary measures: The doctor first advises preventive measures which stops overexertion of jaws and home remedies to bring relief. The doctor suggests remedies like eating soft food, getting rid of stress, applying hot and cold packs, gentle massage to relax the jaws.
  • Medications: The doctor can prescribe mild painkillers, but if the pain continues, then the doctor might give stronger non-steroid medicines like ibuprofen and also muscle relaxants.
  • Mouth guard or night guards: It is a device that fits into the upper and lower teeth so that they don’t meet, reducing the side effects of clenching and grinding of teeth. The dentist can also bring balance by correcting a bite.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): In this treatment low electrical current is given to bring relief to the pain in jaw and facial muscles.                     
  • Ultrasound: It is the application of high-frequency waves on the joints. It reduces pain and improves circulation.
  • Trigger point injections: In this treatment, the dentist injects anesthetic into the trigger point of pain.
What is TMJ disorders? Its diagnosis and treatment?
Dental Treatment

What are the primary surgical treatments for TMJ?

  • Arthrocentesis: In this surgery, the patient is given general anesthesia. Then with a unique tool, the disc stuck in the joint is dislodged. It is also done to get rid of damaged tissues.
  • Arthroscopy: It is a surgery done with a particular instrument called Arthroscope. The arthroscope has a lens and light fixed to it, with the help of this the doctor examines the joint. The doctor gives general anesthesia to the patient and makes a small cut in front of the ear and removes the damaged tissue or fixes the dislocated disc or joint. After this surgery, the patient recovers quickly.
  • Open-joint surgery: If there are tumors around the joint or wearing down joint bones or the jaw is scarred, then the doctor may advise open-joint surgery. The patient is given general anesthesia, and the whole portion around the jaw is opened up to fix this problem. The patients of this kind of surgery take more time to recover.

What precautions should I take after a treatment of TMJ?

Dr. Cory Nguyen, a Dental Implant Dallas professional, suggests being on a liquid diet after surgery to reduce stress to the jaw while eating. He also advises applying an ice pack to the jaw to heal the swelling. The surgical site should also be kept clean and dry to avoid infections.

Proper knowledge about the disorder can help in the management of TMJ. People should look for professional help if they are unable to care for it and control it at home.

References :

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporomandibular_joint
  2. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj
  3. http://beyondsmiles.com/education/tmj-treatment/