Wednesday, January 6, 2016

TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called "TMJ," are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. We don't know for certain how many people have TMJ disorders, but some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected. The condition appears to be more common in women than men.

What is Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone at the side of the head - the temporal bone. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joints. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.

When we open our mouths, the rounded ends of the lower jaw, called condyles, glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slide back to their original position when we close our mouths. To keep this motion smooth, a soft disc lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. The disc absorbs shocks to the jaw joint from chewing and other movements.

The temporomandibular joint is different from the body's other joints. The combination of hinge and sliding motions makes this joint among the most complicated in the body. Also, the tissues that make up the temporomandibular joint differ from other load-bearing joints, like the knee or hip. Because of its complex movement and unique makeup, the jaw joint and its controlling muscles can pose a tremendous challenge to both patients and health care providers when problems arise.

What are TMJ Disorders?

Disorders of the jaw joint and chewing muscles - and how people respond to them - vary widely. Researchers generally agree that the conditions fall into three main categories:

  1. Myofascial pain, the most common temporomandibular disorder, involves discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function
  2. Internal derangement of the joint involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle.
  3. Arthritis refers to a group of degenerative/inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the temporomandibular joint.
A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time. Some people have other health problems that co-exist with TMJ disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances or fibromyalgia, a painful condition that affects muscles and other soft tissues throughout the body. 

People who have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may develop TMJ disease as a secondary condition. Rheumatic disease refer to a large group of disorders that cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness to the joints, muscles, and bone. Both rheumatoid arthritis and some TMJ disorders involve inflammation of the tissues that line the joints. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint, is the most common symptom. Other likely symptoms include:
  • Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together


Source:  National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


If You Think You Have a TMJ Disorder

After an initial consultation, if our surgeons determine that you suffer from TMJ, initial treatment will involve immediate muscle relief with the use of a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory. Other forms of stress management involve physical therapy or the use of a temporary plastic appliance known as a splint, that moves your jaw forward relieving pressure from your jaw. In some cases, surgery, such as arthoscopy and open joint repair, are required to produce optimal results. 

The main goal at our office is to assess your pain and provide you with treatment that will enable you to have a healthier, pain-free jaw. If you think you may suffer from TMJ, call our office to schedule a consultation today (512) 250-5012.





1 comment:

  1. TMJ disorder is very common. Pain from teeth may refer to TMJ and it commonly occurs in case of impacted molar teeth. So proper care of teeth may reduce the risk of TMJ disorders. DentalSave provides discount plans which help with dental cost by providing discount.

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