The temporomandibular joint is found in both cheeks, in front of the ears, and it facilitates the movement of the lower jaw. Without this jaw, speaking, chewing, and yawning will not be possible. Any damage to the TMJ can cause pain and discomfort, and the inability to use the jaw as intended.
TMJ disorder is common, affecting more women aged 20 and 40 years than men. The cause of TMD is not known, but it is believed to be caused by several factors such as jaw injury, arthritis, and genetics.
TMJ pain is temporary and can be managed at home with remedies, However, if you have severe pain and are unable to open the jaw, other therapies such as surgery may be used to rectify the underlying problem.
TMD and TMJ are used interchangeably, but they are in different terms. TMJ is the joint connecting the jaw and the skull, allowing you to speak, chew, and swallow. TMD is a musculoskeletal disorder affecting this joint and the surrounding muscles, causing pain and discomfort.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is not a single disorder, but a combination of the conditions that cause inflammation and myofascial pain. TMD is classified into three categories based on the severity of the pain.
Various factors can trigger TMJ, such as:
Sometimes you may have a clicking sound in the jaw when you open and close it. Also, spasms, dysfunction, pain, and tenderness may develop in the muscles that help chew.
Patients with TMJ syndrome may complain about ear pain, pain in the jaw muscle, cheek pain, jaw locking, difficulty in opening the mouth thoroughly, head, and neck pain.
TMJ pain is temporary at times, and it is mild meaning they can clear with home remedies. However, for severe pain, the dentist may recommend other treatments.
TMJ is similar to musculoskeletal disorders, and therefore the treatment is the same, and they include:
Some of the medications used include muscle relaxants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. Antidepressants can also be prescribed if stress is a contributing factor.
Physical therapies can be a treatment option also for people having TMJ pain. Exercises and stretching help to ease the pain and get the jaw moving. Muscle massages relieve the tension and relax the muscle.
Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles that ease muscle tension. TENS and biofeedback are also therapies that the dentist can use in severe cases. Talk to our dentist about the use of biofeedback for muscle relaxation.
Hot moisture is an excellent remedy for sore jaw. The heat helps to relax the muscles and ease swelling. Oral splints and mouthguards are also used for severe jaw pain. These devices help to maintain the proper alignment of the jaw.
They also help prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth.
The oral splints are useful; however, they are used as temporary treatments as they may disfigure the jaw.
Eating soft foods, resting the muscles and joints, avoiding chewing gum, and not grinding teeth is essential in maintaining joint health.
Jaw surgery is the last resort when all these treatments fail. Several surgical procedures can be used, and the dentist will advise on the suitable one.