TMJ (TEMPORO-MANDIBULAR JOINT) DISORDERS
What are TMJ Disorders (TMD)?
The joint which connects the lower jaw to the skull is known as the temporo-mandibular joint. Any pain or pathology related to these joints or the surrounding structures are known as TMJ disorders.
What causes TMD?
Psychological stresses, teeth grinding, localised trauma, musculoskeletal diseases (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis), misalignment of the jaw joints and misalignment of teeth are the more common causes.
What are the common signs and symptoms of TMD?
– Painful TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding them, usually aggravated when biting, clenching or yawning
– Limited range of jaw movement including jaw locks and stiff cheek muscles
– Noises during jaw movement sounding like a “click”, “pop” or grating sound.
– Headaches, neck aches, toothaches, earaches on the same side of the affected TMJ.
It is important to note TMD can present on both joints or just one joint at a time.
How do I seek help for TMD?
The dentist will need to assess the cause and severity of the TMD, and will manage it accordingly.
Management might include nightguards/occlusal splints, medications such as muscle relaxants and painkillers, jaw exercises and stress management. More complex cases require surgical intervention.