Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: An Overview

Do you ever experience pain in your jaw or hear popping or cracking sounds when you move it? If so, you may have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Temporomandibular joint problems can be caused by a number of factors, including bruxism (grinding your teeth), arthritis and stress.

In this article, the maxillofacial surgeons at Clinique Evoro present the symptoms of TMJ disorders and explain how they can be treated.

What are temporomandibular joints?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the base of the skull. There are two TMJs, one on either side of the face, just in front of the ears.

TMJs have an articular disc that works like a shock absorber. They are also reinforced by the muscles of mastication and internal ligaments.

These joints are among the most complex in the human body. They enable your jaw to open, close and slide forward or to the side in a coordinated way.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders

TMJ dysfunction or pain can lead to problems with eating, speaking and sleeping. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs in order to resolve the problem. Furthermore, there are many different types of oral pathologies, so it’s vital to identify the cause of any maxillofacial pain or discomfort.

A person with a TMJ disorder may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Muscle pain in the jaw on one or both sides of the face
  • Sharp pain that worsens when using the jaw, e.g. when chewing, yawning or opening the mouth
  • Pain or discomfort that may radiate to the temples, jawline or neck
  • A feeling of muscle tension or shooting pain in front of the ears
  • Noises (joint clicking or crepitus) or a cracking, popping or grinding sensation in the joint when opening the mouth
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Difficulty opening the mouth, with the jaw locking in an open position
  • Sensitive teeth
  • A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth align as they close
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth, which may occur at night

TMJ disorders and the discomfort they cause may be the result of an underlying problem. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to have an exam done by a maxillofacial specialist. Only a medical professional will be able to determine a diagnosis and propose the appropriate treatment.

Treatment of TMJ disorders

Treatments for TMJ disorders vary considerably depending on the cause.

The two most common treatments for these types of conditions are bite guards and analgesics to manage the pain.

The following treatments may also be recommended:

  • Self-care measures: keep jaw muscles as relaxed as possible, eat meals that are easy to chew, maintain a healthy lifestyle and good sleep habits
  • Kinesiotherapy sessions for the jaw muscles
  • Double jaw surgery if the problem is related to jaw misalignment
  • Medication such as muscle relaxants or anxiolytics to relieve tension and pain

If the symptoms are severe and there is extensive internal damage, orthognathic surgery may be recommended.

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    Get to the bottom of your TMJ pain with Clinique Evoro

    TMJ disorders can be very bothersome, and the pain they cause can significantly affect your quality of life. It’s vital to find the cause of the problem so that it can be properly treated.

    If you are experiencing TMJ pain or discomfort, it’s best to make an appointment with a maxillofacial specialist to get to the bottom of the issue.

    If you’re looking for a specialist in the Gatineau region to examine your jaw, contact Clinique Evoro and make an appointment. If your situation requires immediate attention, contact our emergency dental service to obtain a consultation as quickly as possible.