What is TMJ disorder?

Have you ever felt pain in your jaw joint or the muscles around it? The trouble could be the temporomandibular joint. This joint assists in talking and chewing. Any damage or injury to this joint may lead to TMJ Disorder. Treatment, on time, can eliminate any risks that may be associated with it.


What is a temporomandibular joint?

A temporomandibular joint or TMJ is the synovial type of hinge joint present on both sides of the head. It includes the jaw bone, muscles, and ligaments which all work together to help mouth movements. The TMJ works in an all-way motion. Firstly, is the top-down motion to help to open and close the mouth. The second one is called the ‘translation motion’  which is specific for the lower jaw movements. This movement enables a person to eat or talk.

What movements usually are possible at TMJ?

Since TMJ is a hinge type of synovial joint, it allows extension and flexion. Extension in TMJ shows as depression of the jaw and flexion is the elevation of the jaw. Apart from these, it also allows some degree ofgliding and rotational movements. The muscles of mastication accompany these movements. Hence, TMJ has a significant role in the chewing process as well. The muscles of mastication include temporal, masseter, medial and lateral pterygoids. They have their attachments on the bones taking part in TMJ, so their movements cause the movement of TMJ and chewing also occurs as a result.


What is TMD?

Temporomandibular joint disorders or dysfunction is abbreviated is TMD. It is a broad term which involves the problem in the temporomandibular joint and its muscles. Most common symptoms of TMD include pain in the jaw, difficult or painful chewing, and pain in the teeth. It is also known as the central sensitivity syndrome or sometimes functional disorder coming under the umbrella of fibromyalgia. It involves musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and even rheumatologic problems resulting in TMD.


Who is more prone to TMD?

Exact causes of TMD are not known yet. But as mentioned earlier, TMD is sometimes considered under a central sensitivity syndrome and attributed to a low threshold for pain like fibromyalgia. Some rheumatologic disorders may also involve TMJ for example, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They can cause pain and restricted movement in the joint. Some genetic and hormonal disorders may also cause TMD. Trauma may also result in injury or dislocation of the joint and cause severe symptoms. Psychological factors like excessive stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation are also important risk factors for the development of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.


What is TMJ dislocation and how is it treated?

In TMJ dislocation may occur during yawning or taking a big bite of food. This causes extended contraction of the lateral pterygoid muscles attached to the joint capsule and articular disc of TMJ. Excessive contraction results dislocation of the head of the mandible from the joint’s anterior aspect. You can’t elevate your jaw to normal position, and it freezes in a depressed state. Sometimes, during a fight, side blow to the jaw causes lateral dislocation of the joint. Blows can also result in fractures of the mandible making the situation more complicated. Relocation, bandaging of the joint and good painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are used for the treatment of TMJ dislocation. Lifetime Dental provides detailed information and expert solutions for the treatment of TMJ Disorder.


What is arthritis of the TMJ?

Inflammatory joint conditions like osteoarthritis also involve TMJ and cause the symptoms of TMD. Degenerative diseases of the joint cause disabling situation and dental complications for the patient. Dental occlusion and joint clicking are also known as crepitus are one of the complexities of TMJ arthritis. Clicking movement of the joint is due to the anterior disc of the joint which shows delayed movements. These sounds are heard during the elevation and depression of the jaw.


What are the ways to diagnose TMD?

There is a specific diagnostic criterion for the TMD diagnosis formulated in 1992 known as RDC/TMD. It stands for Research Diagnostic Criteria method for Temporomandibular joint disorder. In 1997, it was revised. The major points of the criteria are as follows:

  1. Recurring pain in the jaw during chewing and around the ear during the joint function.
  2. Mandibular movements appear to be asymmetric.
  3. Pain is present for at least three months.


Radiologic diagnosis of the TMD is also possible if the joint and bones are directly involved. X-rays and MRI is considered for the diagnosis. Bone scintigraphy is another way to know the TMJ disorder. Headaches are also strongly associated with TMD.


What is the best way to manage TMD?

Management of TMD is complex and may require a multi-disciplinary approach. Mostly, the cause of TMD is treated if easily identified. For neurological and functional pain disorder, behavior and cognitive therapy are beneficial. Muscle relaxation techniques, hypnosis, and yoga help soothe the pain in patients. Intra-oral appliances or bite plates are placed as splints to fit into the upper and lower jaw. Physiotherapy is also provided for such patients as this helps in regaining the lost mobility most safely. Medication may range from simple painkillers to anti-consultants and anti-depressants. Surgery, if required, in some cases of TMD may be performed. Lifetime Dental provides in-depth guidance on how to manage TMJ Disorder.

What is Bruxism and how is it associated with TMD?

Teeth’s grinding during sleep is called bruxism. Patient clenches and grinds his teeth during sleep and is unaware of this condition. When he wakes up, he complains symptoms just like TMD. Some psychological and CNS problems are associated with bruxism, but the exact cause is unknown. Research is still ongoing to find out whether bruxism and TMD have any association. But one thing is for sure that Bruxism aggravates TMD.

Lifetime Dental provides you with the best treatments for your problems. Access to more information on our website.


Felt a pain in your jaw? Call our practice right now!


Dr. Barry is part of a Columbus tradition of dental comfort and care. His outstanding education and training forms the foundation which enables him to treat all of your dental needs with confidence and trust providing the best care possible. Dr. Barry received his BS from Ohio State University in 1976, he also received his DDS from Ohio State in 1980.He is continually educating himself and his staff on the newest dental techniques and approaches in order to provide you with cutting-edge, comfortable, personalized, and antiseptic dental care. Dr. Barry is educated in the following areas – Reconstructive Dentistry, TMJ, Cosmetic Dentistry, Lumineers, Invisalign, Endodontics, Botox, Juviderm, Pediatric Dentistry, Geriatric Dentistry.

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