The Prevalence of Temporomandibular Joint Problems
Temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ), also known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), are the most prevalent cause of persistent facial pain and jaw dysfunction, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). More than ten million people in the United States are thought to be impacted by temporomandibular joint disorders.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The left and right sides of the lower jaw are connected to the temporal bone by two temporomandibular joints. As the jaw moves up and down, front to back, and side to side, both joints and their associated muscles, ligaments, and tendons work together to provide for a wide range of oral functions. The TMJ is a shock-absorbing soft disc that rests between the rounded condyles on both sides of the lower jaw and the corresponding concavities in the temporal bone of the skull. It allows you to chew, speak, yawn, and move your jaw in any direction.
The TMJ is one of the most intricate joints in the body, having up and down hinge-like movements as well as side to side and front to rear sliding motions to complete. It is also one of the most difficult to cure when problems emerge.
Types And Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders
TMJ issues can be classified into one or more of the three categories below:
- Myofascial pain – refers to pain in the jaw joint caused by a variety of factors such as muscle tension and spasm.
- Internal derangement – Displacement of the disc, dislocation of the jaw, or damage to the condyles of the jaw are all possibilities.
- Degenerative joint disease – Arthritis
Long-term teeth grinding, bruxism, a jaw injury, or certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, all increase the likelihood of developing a TMJ problem. Moreover, the symptoms of TMJ disorder vary from person to person, with earaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, back and neck pain, vertigo, muscle spasms, and joint tenderness, as well as jaw pain, popping or grating, sounds with jaw movement, jaw locking, and limited jaw movement all being possible. A TMJ condition can be treated in a short amount of time for some people, but it will continue to linger for others despite prolonged therapy.
Diagnosis And Treatment
A complete clinical assessment of joint symptoms and function will be performed by the dentist when examining for the presence of a TMJ condition. As needed, more diagnostic testing and radiographic imaging will be ordered. To relieve joint strain, mouth appliances like sleep guards or stabilizing splints may be used to treat TMJ disorders. Other options for improving occlusion include steroid injections, occlusal modifications, and orthodontic or prosthodontic treatment. Surgery may be recommended in the case of severe and persistent TMJ disorders.
Self-care techniques can help alleviate some of the symptoms of TMJ disease. Patients are usually recommended to eat soft foods, prevent severe jaw movements such as broad gaping and gum chewing, practice stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and use ice packs or moist heat as directed. If gentle stretching exercises are prescribed, patients should follow the dentist’s or therapist’s instructions. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and pain relievers may provide temporary relief. If this is not the case, the dentist or physician may prescribe stronger pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or anti-depressants.