Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone at the side of the head—the temporal bone. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.
The temporomandibular joint is different from the body’s other joints. The combination of hinge and sliding motions makes this joint among the most complicated in the body. Also, the tissues that make up the temporomandibular joint differ from other load-bearing joints, like the knee or hip. Because of its complex movement and unique makeup, the jaw joint and its controlling muscles can pose a tremendous challenge to both patients and health care providers when problems arise.
TM Joint Disorders
Temporomandibular joint disorder is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic pain, especially in the muscles of mastication and/or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull. The disorder and the associated dysfunctions can result in significant pain, which is the most common Temporomandibular Joint symptom, combined with impairment of function. If any pain is experienced one should immediately consider getting accessed for treatment of tmj.
Signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder vary in their presentation and can be very complex, but are often simple. On average the symptoms will involve more than one of the numerous Temporomandibular Joint components: muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones, connective tissue, and the teeth. Ear pain associated with the swelling of proximal tissue is a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder.
Disorders of the teeth can contribute to Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction. Impaired tooth mobility and tooth loss can be caused by destruction of the supporting bone and by heavy forces being placed on teeth. The movement of the teeth affects how they contact one another when the mouth closes, and the overall relationship between the teeth, muscles, and joints can be altered.
Evaluation & Diagnosis
There is no widely accepted, standard test now available to correctly diagnose Temporomandibular Joint disorders. Because the exact causes and symptoms are not clear, identifying these disorders can be confusing and makes Treatment of TMJ very difficult. Currently, health care providers note the patient’s description of symptoms, take a detailed medical and dental history, and examine problem areas, including the head, neck, face, and jaw. Imaging studies may also be recommended. You may need to see more than one medical specialist for your Tempromandibular Joint pain and symptoms, such as your primary care provider, a dentist, or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, depending on your symptoms.
Sometimes, the results of the physical exam may appear normal. Your doctor will also need to consider other conditions, such as infections, ear infections, neuralgias, or nerve-related problems and headaches, as the cause of your symptoms.
Treatment of TMJ
The nature of a temporomandibular joint disorder determines the treatment options, and therefore the correct specialist to best help the patient. There are both surgical and non-surgical procedures that can alleviate the issues associated with Temporomandibular Joint disorders. Our offices can evaluate and diagnose the issue, and if we cannot satisfy the needs of the patient we will refer a specialist who can.