Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder, which affects the jaw muscles and nerves. The disorder is caused due to an injury or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone and the skull.
Inflammation of the temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, crackling, and popping of the jaw. This, in turn, leads to swelling on the sides of the face, nerve inflammation, headaches, tooth grinding, and in some cases, even dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.
Causes of TMJ Syndrome
The causes of TMJ are not completely understood by the medical community. However, multiple factors have been found related to TMJ syndrome, one of which includes muscle tightness and dysfunction.
Some of the suspected causes include:
- Misalignment of teeth, or trauma to the teeth or jaw
- Teeth grinding
- Poor posture
- Stress or anxiety
- Inflammatory musculoskeletal disorder
- Orthodontic braces
- Excessive gum chewing
Signs and Symptoms
The noticeable symptom of TMJ is pain in the jaw joint that is located in front of the ear. The pain sensations can spread to the face, eyes, forehead, ears, or even the neck.
The other symptoms of TMJ syndrome include:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw joint
- Popping/clicking of the jaw
- Pain which feels like a toothache
- Ear pain or cracking/popping/ringing in the ear
- Headaches and migraines
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Blurred vision
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- Tight, stiff jaw and neck muscles
- Pain in the face area, mouth, base of the tongue, jaw, cheeks, chin, and/or shoulders
- Pain, swelling, or a lump in the temples
- Difficulty while chewing
To diagnose the condition, the dentist will initially study the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam to find the cause of the symptoms. There are no specific tests to diagnose TMJ syndrome.
Instead, an oral and maxillofacial specialist or a dentist specializing in jaw disorders will be able to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, the medical professional will perform an MRI of the temporomandibular joint to detect the damage and then rule out other medical problems.
In rare cases, the symptoms of TMJ may go untreated. However, if the symptoms persist, the doctor will recommend different options to resolve the symptoms that can include either or both medical treatment and therapy.
In case over-the-counter pain medications do not suffice, the doctor will prescribe strong pain relievers and anti-inflammatories for limited use to temporarily ease the pain. Muscle relaxant medications can also be used for a few days or weeks to experience relief from the pain caused by the TMJ syndrome.
In some cases, the dentist will opt for non-drug therapy such as the use of oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances). A soft or firm device such as a mouth guard will be inserted over their teeth that will benefit those who suffer from jaw pain.
Do not ignore your pain, instead consult with our endodontics to confirm the diagnosis and follow the required mode of treatment at the American Dental Clinic.