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TMJ Disorders, often known as temporomandibular joint disorders, concern the jaws and temporal bone.

Temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ, is a very complex joint. Unlike other joints in the body skeleton, TMJ can exercise both vertical and horizontal movements. Also, it is the reason we can chew and talk.

A woman eating a donut

TMJ disorders, on the other hand, are a type of Temporomandibular Dysfunction, also known as TMD syndrome. It can usually cause pain while moving muscles around the joint.

Common Symptoms

In most cases, TMD syndrome is self-diagnosable. For example, if pain and discomfort are usually experienced near the temporomandibular joint while chewing, biting, or talking, it is a clear sign of TMD syndrome.

However, there are other symptoms to it too.

  • Tenderness in jaw muscles
  • Pain in one or both joints
  • Pain around ear
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Facial pain
  • Locking of joints
  • Difficulty in opening or closing mouth

Besides these signs, if you can hear grinding or clicking sounds during jaw movement, it could also be a sign of TMD syndrome.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

As already mentioned, the temporomandibular joint usually performs two movements- horizontal and vertical. The horizontal movement usually works as sliding of the joint. Whereas, the vertical movement usually is referred to as the hinge motion.

The joint is supported by cartilage and a shock-absorbing disk. The experts at explain that when these two supporting elements fail to perform efficiently, it causes TMD syndrome. Apart from this, there could be other reasons too.

  • Physical injury to the joint
  • Arthritis
  • Grinding or clenching of the jaw while asleep
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Dental surgeries

It is noteworthy that in some cases, oral infections can also lead to TMJ disorders. Apart from this, genetic disorders, hormonal imbalance, and even stress factors have also been found to cause TMJ disorders.

In general, these disorders are more common in women than men. However, the exact reason for this natural selection is still being evaluated.

Treatment Options

In most cases, TMJ disorders can be easily treated with generic medications and some lifestyle changes. However, for more severe cases, surgery may also be suggested by a dentist.

Nonetheless, the usual course of treatment would include:

Diagnosis of the condition

The first thing that your dentist would do is diagnose your condition. They would ascertain the extent of damage to the temporal muscles and ligaments.

On careful diagnosis, your dentist may conclude whether your condition can be treated without surgery or not.

Lifestyle changes and medication

Regardless of whether you would need surgical treatment or not, your dentist would suggest some lifestyle changes. For example, chewing softer foods, using spacers, and including mild jaw exercises in daily routine.

On top of this, your dentist may also prescribe pain relievers, and muscle relaxing medications to help with the agony.

If nothing proves to help with your condition, the dentist would then go for surgery to readjust your jaw joint. Usually, a TMJ surgery is not required, as already mentioned, however, if the condition persists it might be unavoidable.

In case, surgery is the last resort, it is better to consult with a dentist who has experience in performing such surgeries. Since the TMJ is a complex joint, you wouldn’t want any mistakes to occur.

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