Don’t Let TMJ Disorder Pain Ruin Your Day
Are you facing persistent pain in the area near your ear or on the muscles of your side face?
If you’re hearing a clicking and popping sound, you may be suffering from TMD or Temporomandibular disorder.
In this article we will discuss about the causes, symptoms and suggested treatments for TMJ. Also, we will look into the non-surgical TMJ treatments, which patients can apply to alleviate the pain when it’s not easy to make a quick visit to the dentist. However, experts from Magnum Clinic suggest consulting a maxillofacial specialist once you feel chronic pain.
What Is The Temporomandibular Joint?
Located at the skull base, the temporomandibular joint allows facial movement for talking, chewing, and smiling. This joint connects the mandible or the lower jaw with the temporal bone on the side skull. As TMJ allows for movement up, down and side to side, it is considered one of the most complex joints of your body.
What Are TMJ Disorders?
Dysfunction of TMJ is known as TMJ disorder. It occurs when the ligaments and muscles around your jaw become irritated or inflamed. The condition may be chronic or acute, and the pain may be mild/moderate or severe.
Based on the range of symptoms, doctors may diagnose TMJ disorders. It may include persistent
pain around the jawline, causing restricted jaw movement.
What Are The Causes Of TMJ Disorders?
Many possible causes are there for TMJ disorders. It includes-
- Physical injury
- Clenching or grinding during sleep
- Dental surgery
- Autoimmune diseases
- Acute trauma
- Improper bite
What Are The Common TMJ Symptoms?
According to research, symptoms of TMJ disorders can depend on the cause and the severity of your condition. Here you go-
- Jaw pain
- Shoulder or neck pain
- Facing issues while opening your mouth wide
- Clicking or popping sounds during opening/closing your mouth
- Jaws get locked during the opening/closed mouth position
- Difficulty in chewing
- Sudden changes in the way your teeth fit
- Swelling on the face side
How Is TMJ Dysfunction Diagnosed?
Dentists diagnose the TMJ dysfunction during the dental checkup. The expert will do the needful like-
- Will observe the motion when you open and close the mouth
- Will press your face and jaw to determine the affected area
- Will feel around the jaw points while you open and close your mouth
The dentist may take the help of X-rays to view the jaw points. It would help the expert to ascertain the extent of the damage. It may include-
- MRI scans- During the checkup, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging can be used to view the soft tissues around the jaw points. The images will help to determine the disk position, possible jaw locking and inflammation. Your dentist can assess whether the TMJ disc is functioning properly.
- Panoramic X-rays show a broad overview of your jawbone, teeth and TMJs.
- CBCT scans- Cone beam computed technology or CBCT can capture plenty of images of your jaws, teeth, sinuses and facial bones. These images are stitched together to produce a detailed 3-D image. The dentist will get a detailed overview of your facial anatomy.
Treatment Of TMJ Disorders
Treatment of TMJ disorders ranges from self-care practices to surgical treatments. You need to determine what you will do based on your pain condition. We recommend visiting your nearest dentist once you feel persistent pain affecting your lifestyle.
What are some non-surgical treatments to help manage TMJ disorders?
You can alleviate TMJ pain with non-surgical treatment options for minor cases. Here are a few ways you can help relieve your pain without surgery.
1. Use a hot or cold compress
Ice can help to reduce swelling and pain. On the other hand, heat may increase the blood flow to relax your muscles. Apply either a block of ice or a hot water bag for 15-20 mins at least. Use a light layer between your skin and the compress.
2. Check your posture
Sitting in an unusual position for a long time may cause you to feel more jaw pain. Choose an ergonomic chair while working and take breaks between your work schedule. Set your seat to be upright during driving. Also, place a pillow while watching TV for excellent back support.
3. Eat soft foods
You need to give your jaw maximum rest once you feel discomfort. Eat foods like mashed potatoes, fish, cooked vegetables, grains, beans, cheese etc. Don’t eat hard and crunchy foods like nuts, chips, raw carrots etc. Also, don’t chew gums.
4. Wear a splint
Splints and night guards provide stable tooth contacts during mouth closure. It fits over your upper or lower teeth. Once worn, it also corrects your bite by placing the jaw comfortably. Splints can be worn full-time, whereas a night guard is only meant for the night. Consult a dentist before buying the right one based on your condition.
5. Reduce stress
Relax your jaw whenever you get the time. You can try meditation to loosen your jaw. Also, yoga practices can put less stress on your jaw muscles. Hence, it would relax your mind and face.
What are some surgical treatments?
Once you experience chronic pain, the dentist may suggest you undergo TMJ surgery. It is the best option to alleviate your pain. Here are some types of TMJ surgical treatments-
A maxillofacial surgeon will perform this under general anaesthesia. He/she will make a small incision in front of the ear. Next, the expert will insert a small, thin instrument containing a lens and light. It will be integrated with a video screen to enable the surgeon to access the TMJ and surrounding area. Based on the cause of TMJ pain, the surgeon may realign the disc or remove inflamed tissue. The recovery time is shorter as this process involves tiny incisions.
This procedure is also performed under general anaesthesia. Dentists use this technique if the jaw suddenly locks in the closed position. Surgeons insert needles filled with sterile fluids into the affected area to wash out the area. It helps to reduce the inflammation in the TMJ. Eventually, a surgical instrument may be needed to remove the scar tissue or to dislodge a moved-out disc.
3. Open-joint surgery-
A traditional procedure involves making a long incision to insert the instruments. It is necessary if your jaw’s bony structure is wearing away, tumours around TMJ or severe scarring is present. Based on your present condition, the surgeon will suggest the best solution for your needs.
It’s Never Too Soon To Seek TMJ Disorder Treatment
Never forget that pain is the body’s natural alarm system. It lets us know if something is wrong. Hence, we should never ignore the symptoms of TMJ disorder. It won’t go away on its own. The situation may get worse over time. If you feel pain in and around your jaw, ensure to schedule an appointment with us. The experts will get to the bottom of it and advise the next steps you must follow.