TMJ Disorders: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever felt pain or discomfort in your jaws? Is it difficult to smile, eat or talk due to extreme pain? Then, it might be a symptom of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders. Research proves that, for adults and the elderly, the prevalence of TMJ disorders was estimated to be around 31%, while for children and adolescents, the prevalence stood at approximately 11%. Since this issue requires attention, here discussing more related details about this condition. So that, it can be identified and cured at the earliest as possible to prevent further complications.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a ginglymoarthrodial joint (diarthrosis) that contains a synovial cavity, articular cartilage, and a capsule covering. Also, this temporomandibular joint is made up of three surfaces that connect: the mandibular fossa and articular tubercle, which are located in the squamous part of the temporal bone, and the head of the mandible. As a part of the stomatognathic system, this sliding hinge-type joint will connect the jawbone to the skull, which allows the mouth to open, suck, swallow,  breathe, and create various facial expressions.

To locate the temporomandibular joint, place your finger in front of your ear and open your mouth. You can feel the joint flexibility when moving your jaws up and down and side to side. There will be two joints located on both sides of your face

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ disorder is a disorder caused to this joint, which causes difficulty to move the jaw joints and muscles due to extreme pain. It is estimated that over 10 million Americans are affected with this disorder and among them, this condition is more common in women between 19-49 than men. The root causes of TMJ disorders in women might be differences in bone structure and bone density, and estrogen receptors in their jaw.

When experiencing discomfort due to TMJ disorder, you can seek the help of an ENT specialist or dentist. This is why, many people doubts who to consult when facing problems with the temporomandibular joint. For this, you need to find the primary cause. Like, if it is a medical condition caused by fibromyalgia or arthritis, you need to go to an ENT specialist. Else, if it is caused by teeth problems such as teeth grinding, then you should seek the help of a dentist. If you don’t know the exact reason by analyzing your TMJD symptoms, then it will be better to do a proper checkup at the best ENT hospital in your locality. So, the root cause can be analyzed and appropriate treatment can be started.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders include the following:

  • Difficulty chewing and licking
  • Tension headache along with blurry vision and pressure build-up behind the eye socket
  • Hearing loss that includes muffled sound, difficulty hearing, and pain in the ear
  • Affects the body’s cognitive functions
  • Malocclusion
  • Pain in the face, ear, jaw, or mouth
  • Toothaches
  • Locking of the joint/ Restricted jaw movement

Types of TMJ Disorders

In general, TMJ disorders can be categorized into three types and this includes:

  • Muscular: This is a most common stress-related problem for TMJ that tightens the muscles used for chewing. This condition is also called myofascial pain disorder.
  • Structural: Also called degenerative joint disorder, is a severe type of TMD caused by the structural changes to the jaw due to overuse or aging. The primary reason might be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or a perforated TMJ disc. This condition may sometimes shift the patient’s teeth to the left or right causing severe pain while biting or chewing.
  • Acute/ Trauma-related: This condition will occur as a result of sports injury or accident, or a blunt force to the face or chin. Acute TMD involves progressive slipping or displacement of the articular disc.

Reasons For TMJ Disorder

There is no specific reason for TMJD. It will be associated with several factors and the common causes of TMJD includes the following:

  • Grinding or clenching of teeth for a longer period
  • Jaw injury caused by accidents
  • Arthritis
  • The disk undergoes erosion or shifts from its correct positioning.
  • Dental surgery
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Infections
  • Using your teeth as tools

If TMJD is diagnosed in the beginning stage itself, it can be treated easily by making some lifestyle changes. This includes avoiding chewing gums, avoiding clenching or tensing the jaw, eating soft food, and doing gentle exercises like stretching the jaw and massaging the affected areas.