What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Pain in the jaw may be due to temporomandibular joint disorder. This pain originates near the joints of the mandible. The mandible is also called the jawbone. Each of the temporomandibular joints has an anticular disc. The discs are made of flexible cartilage. The ligaments and muscles located in the jaw area can become inflamed. There are three ligaments involved in helping the jaw open and close.
There are various symptoms of TMJ disorder. Morning migraines, earaches and dizziness can indicate this health condition. Many patients experience grating, popping or clicking sounds as the jaw moves. Sometimes jaw pain will happen while chewing food. Pain can exist even if the jaw is immobilized. The inner ear may develop tinnitus. Tinnitus is a buzzing noise in the ear. Chronic TMJ syndrome can cause hearing loss.
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Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
A health professional should be consulted for this painful condition. The condition often becomes chronic when medical treatment is delayed.
A physician or dentist will examine the jaw to determine the cause of the pain. Dental issues are the primary cause of TMJ syndrome. A patient may often see a dentist who specializes in this condition.
Tooth loss or misaligned teeth will change the action of chewing food. This causes incorrect biting pressure on the surfaces of teeth. Incorrect chewing pressure causes inflammation in the muscles of the face. Many TMJ disorder patients grind their teeth while sleeping.
This intense grinding action is called bruxism. Bruxism reduces the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The nighttime clenching of the jaw during bruxism causes the jaw to ache during the day. Arthritis, injury and birth defects can also lead to TMJ disorder.
Preventing Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Early detection by health professionals can prevent chronic TMJ disorder. Delaying treatment causes further damage to the temporomandibular joints, teeth and jaw. Contacting a specialist for preventive treatment is imperative. Patients can use biofeedback devices to reduce bruxism.
A mouth guard can also be worn to prevent damage to the surfaces of the teeth. Braces may be recommended to reposition misaligned teeth. An orthodontist can create plastic aligners or metal braces. Patients can learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Stress often leads to bruxism.
Replacing poorly fitting dentures can reduce TMJ symptoms. Surgical procedures can repair damage to the jaw and joints after accidents. Surgery can involve replacing the inflamed joint. Irrigating the jaw joint or anticular disc can also relieve the pain of TMJ disorder.
Patients who have arthritis should be prescribed medications to assist in stopping further damage to the bones of the face. Beginning treatment for TMJ disorder when symptoms first appear can prevent this condition from becoming chronic.
Peter Wendt is a freelance writer from Austin, Texas. Peter’s wife has suffered from TMJ since she was 14 years old, a problem she could have lessened had she visited a children’s Orthodontist when she was young.