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TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Your TMJ, short for the temporomandibular joint, is one of your body's most complex joints. Here, our Markham dentists explain three pain kinds of TMJ disorders (also called TMD), including their symptoms and your treatment options. 

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the connective joint joining the bones of your skull (below your temple and in front of your ear) to your jaw. You use this joint as a hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, speaking, talking and breathing.  

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are actually three main types of TMJ disorders:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this degenerative disorder happens when the cartilage surrounding the bones of your TMJ wears away or breaks.

Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement and allows your bones to glide easily over each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may not be able to move your jaw.

Muscle Disorders

Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. You may also experience pain in your jaw muscles, shoulders and neck.

Joint Derangement Disorders

A small and soft disc between your condyle and temporal bone makes the opening and closing of your jaw smooth and easy. This disc is very important. It absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during the movement of your jaw.

When an individual has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated disc or damaged bone.

The displacement of this disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. There is currently no surgical solution to this issue.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
  • Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
  • Facial bruising or swelling
  • Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
  • Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw

When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If common at-home remedies like chewing gum, avoiding stress, or trying over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs aren't proving effective, you should make a dental appointment to address your TMD.

Your dentist should review your dental history, perform a thorough examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays to assess before providing an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. The treatment he or she recommends may include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • TMJ therapy
  • Dental splints
  • Oral Surgery
  • Prescription medications

Your dentist can help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Are you experiencing dizziness, headaches or jaw pain? We may be able to develop a customized treatment plan to help. Contact our Markham dentists today to book an appointment.

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