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TMJ and Jaw Pain

The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge connection between the jaw bone and the skull. This allows you to move your mouth, chew, and talk while eating and sleeping. Unsurprisingly, it is the most used joint in the body.


Symptoms and signs of TMD include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the ear region. Constant usage and abuse of the joint can result in inflammation and discomfort, which is known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD). Up to 70% of people suffer from bruxism. It is a typical ailment that affects 60-70% of the population. Women are at least four times more likely than men to have it. The Glendale Dentist is well-equipped with conservatively treating and managing jaw pain.



What Is the TMJ?


The TMJ is a unique kind of joint that combines elements of a hinge, as well as a ball and socket mechanism. The spherical upper end of the lower jaw, known as the "condyle," is placed in a socket at the base of the skull called the "articular fossa." A disk of cartilage acting as an shock absorber or cushion allows the jaws to move freely between the condyle and fossa. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments operate together to assist with its operation around it are supporting components such as bones, joints, and muscles that all work together.


What Are the Causes of TMJ and Jaw Pain?


There are two types of TMJ discomfort. The first is TMJ pain that is caused by a traumatic incident such as whiplash from a vehicle accident or a direct blow to the jaw joint. Minor acute injuries to the jaw joint are typically self-limiting, and pain generally goes away with time. Occasionally surgery is required, but it is only done in rare situations. Finally, after the primary shock has subsided, the joint will feel better.


The second sort of TMJ discomfort is more persistent in nature. TMD is a persistent condition of the jaw joint, surrounding muscles, and nerves surrounding the region, all of which cause facial pain. Minor and micro traumas to the region rarely result in significant suffering; nonetheless, with time, this accumulates to the point where bodily limitations are reached, at which point it can produce a lot of anguish. The following are some of the reasons connected to TMD:

  • Grinding of the teeth

  • Clenching of the teeth

  • Incorrect posture

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Arthritis and other musculoskeletal inflammatory disorders

  • Changes in hormones

  • Misalignment of the molars (crooked teeth)

  • Malocclusion (jaw misalignment) (incorrect bite)

  • Jaws that are insufficiently/incorrectly developed



It's critical to realize that the TMD is a multifactorial and complicated problem, and that simply treating one factor will not automatically cure your pain. For example, parafunctional habits such as bruxism, clenching, and grinding can all cause muscular muscle soreness spasm. If a patient is suffering from chronic jaw pain, the cartilage that allows the jaw to move freely may become internally deranged.


Alarm symptoms are one of these warning signs. The para functional behavior, on the other hand, might be linked to cognitive and mental issues such as sadness and anxiety. All factors contributing to jaw discomfort must be identified and addressed successfully in order for it to be treated effectively.


What are the signs and symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?


TMD, as it is often chronic in origin and has a variety of causes, can manifest itself in a wide range of ways, from mild and occasional discomfort to severe consistent and debilitating pain. The following are the most prevalent symptoms associated with jaw discomfort:

  • Soreness and discomfort in the jaw

  • During normal function, there is pain around the ear.

  • Jaw locking during opening Inability to open the mouth

  • Jaw mobility is restricted.

  • Jaw clicking, popping, or grating

  • Headaches

  • Back of the eye pain

  • Shoulder/arm ache

  • Ringing in the ears or earaches (tinnitus)

  • Dizziness

  • Teeth ache or sensitivity

How is TMD diagnosed?


In order to confirm and identify TMJ pain, a thorough examination and investigation are usually required. It's critical to understand the reasons and factors that may be contributing to chronic facial pain so as to ensure effective and efficient treatment of the problem.


Detailed medical history


The more documentation there is of the pain history, medical record, dental history, and social history, the more personalized treatment can be provided to the patient and the better his or her chance of successfully treating jaw discomfort. Because TMD is a multifactorial condition that has many causes, it's critical to understand all contributing factors before starting therapy.


Examination of the body


To diagnose TMJ pain, a physical examination of the jaw joint's range of motion, a full-thickness muscle palpation to identify myofascial discomfort, and an inspection of the teeth and surrounding oral structures are all necessary.


Imaging diagnostics


X-rays of the entire mouth, such as 3D Cone Beam Computed Tomography (3D CBCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), might be required to view the jaw joint and surrounding structures.


Sleep research


A polysomnogram (also known as a sleep study) is an extensive test that electronically transmits and records your physical activities while you sleep. This is to look for any sleeping disorders that have gone undetected previously. Sleep problems are strongly linked to jaw issues and TMD.



How do I deal with jaw pain?


Conservative therapies for treating jaw discomfort include a number of procedures. These might include:

  • Dental orthotics, night guards, and splints are all examples of braces.

  • Restorative dental work

  • Jaw stretches/massage

  • Packs of heat and ice

  • Inflammatory medications

  • Stress management and reduction

  • Changes in behavior

  • Consultation with a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, myologist, or masseuse

  • Botox and anti-inflammatory injections

  • Dietary modifications

  • Surgery

Understanding that treatment may include any or all of the above treatment techniques to address all contributing causes is critical in order to treat and manage TMJ pain effectively.


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