The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw. This joint is a complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones, enabling the lower jaw to move down, forwards, backwards and side -to- side.
TMJD stands for a disorder in this joint – Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. This condition may result from some misalignment preventing the joint from working properly, but the exact cause is often impossible to determine.
What are the symptoms of TMJD?
TMJD has many signs and symptoms. Some of the most common TMJD symptoms include:
- Headaches, often mimicking migraines
- Pain and pressure behind the eyes
- A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth
- Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely or chewing
- Jaws that "get stuck," lock or “go out”
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles
- A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.
It is often difficult to diagnose TMJD with certainty, because one or all of these symptoms can also be present with other problems. Your dentist can help make a proper diagnosis by taking a complete medical and dental history, conducting a clinical examination and taking appropriate X-rays.
Treatment of TMJD?
While there is no single cure for TMJD, there are different treatments you can follow that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Your dentist may recommend one or more of the following:
- Trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication such as muscle relaxants, aspirin or other over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Reducing the harmful effects of clenching and grinding by wearing an appliance, sometimes called a bite plane or splint. Custom-made to fit your mouth, the appliance slips over the upper/lower teeth and keeps them from grinding against the opposing teeth.
- Learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counselling to help eliminate stress.
When the jaw joints are affected and other treatments have been unsuccessful, jaw joint surgery may be recommended.