What is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

Millions of people around the world suffer from Temporomandular Joint Disorder, a condition that affects the jaw and causes chronic pain. It is important to be aware of how this disorder can affect your body so that you can catch any early warning signs, should they occur. Here is what you need to know.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The Temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It is a hinge that is responsible for all your jaw movements – up, down and to the side – so you can eat, chew, talk and yawn.

How do you know you have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

If this joint isn’t working properly and causes pain, it is a sign to see the doctor. Anything that prevents the smooth movement of your jaw, facial muscles that control them and the above activities, might be an indication of TMJ disorder.

 

What causes TMJ Disorder?

The exact cause of Temporomandibular Joint disorder is rather difficult to assess. But it could be any of the following:

  • If there is a problem in the muscles or parts of the joint
  • Injury to your jaw
  • A heavy blow to your jaw, muscles of head or neck
  • Pressure on the joint due to grinding and clenching
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Tightened facial muscles due to stress

 

What are the signs of TMJ disorder?

  • Severe pain and pressure behind the eye
  • Headaches and earache
  • A clicking/ popping sound on opening the mouth
  • Pain during yawning or widening your mouth
  • Tenderness in your face, jaw and neck area
  • Locked/ stuck jaws
  • Chewing issues because of the misalignment of teeth
  • Side face swelling
  • Upper shoulder pain

TMJ disorder can be temporary or can last for many years.

 

Diagnosis and treatment

The disorder has multiple symptoms but these could be the cause of some other problem as well. To be sure, dentists diagnose it with X-rays, detailed history and necessary clinical examinations.

Remedies for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder usually include the combination of the following:

Dos

  • Moist heat and cold packs that help eliminate muscle spasms.
  • Eating soft foods that put less pressure on your jaws.
  • Relaxing your jaw, avoiding grinding and clenching, sometimes by using a mouthpiece device called the splint. They fit over your teeth, so the upper and lower ones do not touch, lessening the effects of clenching or grinding of teeth.
  • Dentist prescribed medicines to reduce pain, swelling and stress.
  • Relieving the pressure on your jaw by keeping your teeth apart putting your tongue in between.
  • Have a good posture to reduce pain.

 

Don’ts

  • Do not hold phone between shoulder and ear.
  • Avoiding resting your chin on your hand.
  • Eliminate moving the jaw with extreme movements like yelling, singing or chewing gum and ice.

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