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Dr. Gerald Regni Jr & Associates

Understanding Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

By Gerald Regni, DMD on February 05, 2016

The joint that connects your jaw to your skull’s temporal bones is commonly called the Tempromandibular Joint. TMD or TMJ is the disorder that exists when there are issues or problems with the facial muscles or jaw. In most cases, the condition is associated with an inflammation in the joint itself. It is often painful and limits eating, speaking and opening the mouth completely.

Learn the Signs and Symptoms

There are a number of signs and symptoms indicating the presence of TMD or TMJ. However, it may be difficult to determine whether or not you are actually afflicted with the condition since one or more of the signs and symptoms listed could be indicative of other problems. Some of the common signs and symptoms include:
  • Bruxing or clenching and grinding the teeth
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw joints when closing and opening the mouth
  • Earaches or headaches that imitate migraines
  • Facial swelling
  • Flat chewing surfaces of the teeth or worn down enamel
  • General tooth pain
  • Jaw gets locked or stuck and moves out of place
  • Pain and pressure at the back of the eyes
  • Pain in the ear area, face, or jaw
  • Sensitivity to brushing and cold beverage or food temperatures
  • Sore muscles around the jaw joints, especially when first waking up
  • Unexplained breakage of bridges, crowns, and teeth
Consequently, making a proper diagnosis and treating TMD or TMJ can oftentimes be challenging. More importantly, making an accurate diagnosis is essential to the proper treatment of the condition.

Coping with TMD or TMJ

Whether the problem is located within the joint or is muscular in nature, it usually improves over time. However, most experts recommend a more conservative approach to treating the problem. In the more severe cases of TMD or TMJ, injections and even surgical procedures may be suggested. Fortunately, most symptoms are temporary and don’t become more severe. In fact, simple treatments at home oftentimes correct the problem and some symptoms may disappear altogether. However, they may return without any warning.

Alleviating Your Symptoms

While there is no single approach or treatment solution for TMD or TMJ and reducing the symptoms of it, dentists usually recommend one of the following:
  • OTC and prescription medications – you can usually eliminate or relieve muscle pain and spasms by applying a hot, moist towel. You can also take over-the-counter and prescription medications such as analgesics (painkillers), anti-inflammatories, aspirin, and muscle relaxants.
  • Relaxation techniques – these help to alleviate and control jaw muscle tension. Plus, your dentist may recommend counseling or training for stress elimination.
  • Wearing mouth guards or splints – these oral devices help to reduce the damaging and harmful side effects of bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth).
While there are other treatment options including surgical procedures for misalignment of the jaw, it is recommended that you visit your dentist first to confirm if indeed you do have TMD or TMJ before seeking treatment.

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