What Causes TMJ Pain and How is it Treated?


Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ) cause dysfunction of the jaw joint and the muscles that control the movement of jaw. For most people TMJ do not cause any severe problem and they do not require any treatment. Mandible is another name for the lower jaw and the temporal bone is the bone at the side of your head. The temporomandibular joint connects these two while the muscles around it control the position and movement of the joint. This joint is one of the most complicated joints in the human body. Some of the disorders that affect the TMJ are displaced disc, dislocated jaw, injury to the ends of the lower jaw or condyle, myofascial pain–a kind of chronic pain disorder and arthritis.

emporomandibular joint & Muscle Disorders

The TMJ pain often spreads to the neck and shoulders. TMJ disorders can lead to ear pain and hearing loss. It can cause swelling to the face and mouth, and the muscle spasms caused by TMJ can make swallowing difficult. Locking of the jaw joint can also happen as a result of TMJ. Headache, dizziness and nausea are some of the other symptoms.

There is very little that is known to science about the jaw joint and muscle disorders. There does not seem to be any clear reasons for the beginning of the symptoms and there is not much known about how the disorders progress.TMJ pain can be caused by internal or external trauma, for instance, teeth grinding, clenching, a punch to the jaw or an accident. Sometimes, a bad bite or orthodontic braces can cause TMJ disorders.

If you are suffering from TMJ, you can choose either reversible or irreversible treatments. Reversible treatments include dental splints, Botox injections, pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and self-care practices such as avoiding extreme jaw movements, reducing stress and eating soft foods. Irreversible treatments are recommended only in severe cases. There are surgeries and implants available for these situations.

Melbourne dentists usually prefer nonsurgical treatments. One of the methods used to relieve the symptoms of TMJ is behavioural modification. Habits such as always using chewing gum or biting nails can aggravate the situation. So patients are advised to avoid these. It is important to keep your posture in balance. Avoid sleeping with hands pressed to your face, resting your chin on your hand and holding phone between your shoulder and ear. Patients may use heat packs to increase blood circulation and ice packs to get relief from pain.

The dentists in Melbourne focus on taking away stresses from the joint and letting the body heal itself. To keep the facial muscles relaxed and reduce tension an occlusant splint may be recommended. It keeps the teeth apart helping the TMJ to move freely. Patients with severe and constant pain will have to wear the splint all day long, but others may wear it only at night. It is suggested that hard food may temporarily be removed from the diet.

Physiotherapy is one of the effective treatments for TMJ pain. Dentists recommend to their patients gentle and relaxing jaw exercises. Physiotherapy can strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. In Myotherapy, the patients receive massage from someone trained to massage the area. This can help with the muscle problems. To help manage stress, patients are encouraged to try methods such as yoga or counselling. Melbourne dentists often use Botox , a drug made from the bacterium that causes food poisoning, to treat TMJ. Botox is used in small doses to relieve jaw tension, eliminate headache and reduce soreness.

Sometimes, a bite problem might be the cause for TMJ. The dentist will replace missing teeth, and use crowns, bridges or braces to correct the problem. Dentals bridges prevent teeth from shifting from their original positions when a space is available. It can also help with fixing misalignment. A crown is usually fixed over broken or crack tooth to protect the natural bite.

Surgery is considered only when all the other options have been tried and could not help. TMJ surgery is very complex and can lead to serious complications. Even when surgery is recommended, it is important to find the causes that led to the situation and manage those.A surgery can fix specific problems by, for instance, removing a scar tissue or repositioning the disc. The surgical treatments available include arthroscopy, arthroplasty and TMJ prosthetic joint replacement. Researchers in the health sciences are working to understand the TMJ disorders better.