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Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Treatment

Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are ailments that affect the joints of the jaw as well as the muscles and ligaments in the surrounding area. Trauma, an incorrect bite, or wear and tear are all potential causes of this condition. Jaw soreness, headaches, earaches, and face discomfort are typical manifestations of this condition.

Just in front of each ear, on both sides of the face, are a pair of joints known as the temporomandibular joints. TMJs are link the lower jawbone to the skull and help facilitate major activities such as chewing and speaking.


What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?


Temporomandibular joint disorder is most typically called as TMD. This refers to any issue that arises in the TMJ. The phrases TMJ and TMD are sometimes used interchangeably by some individuals.

When the muscles and ligaments that surround the jaw joints become inflamed or irritated, a condition known as TMJ dysfunction can develop. The illness might be acute or chronic, and the pain it causes could range anywhere from moderate to severe.


Most Common Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder


TMJ dysfunction affects people the most frequently between the ages of 25 and 45, and it is more prevalent in women than in males. The following are some of the most often experienced symptoms of this disorder:


  • Jaw discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Chewing difficulty
  • Discomfort in the region of the neck or shoulders
  • Having trouble expanding the mouth completely
  • Earaches
  • Having jaws that may be locked in either the open or closed position
  • Clicking or popping sounds emanating from the jaw joint when opening or shutting the mouth
  • A sense of exhaustion in the face


Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder


In certain circumstances, TMD symptoms may resolve without therapy. If they remain, the physician may offer many therapy choices, frequently to be administered simultaneously. First, medicated and alternative therapies are attempted.

If over-the-counter drugs are insufficient to alleviate temporomandibular joint discomfort, the dentist may prescribe stronger medicines for a short duration. On the other hand, antidepressants are primarily used to treat depression,  however, at low dosages they are also used to treat pain, bruxism, and insomnia. Muscle relaxants may use to alleviate discomfort caused by spasms caused by TMJ issues in some cases.

In addition to stretching and strengthening exercises for the jaw muscles, other therapies include ultrasound, moist heat, and ice. In addition, therapy can help a patient recognize the conditions and behaviors that might exacerbate pain so that they can be avoided. Examples include teeth clenching, grinding, chin leaning, and fingernail biting.


Temporomandibular Joint Surgery and Other Procedures


If the above-mentioned treatment options remain unresolved for the patient, specialists may recommend surgery for the treatment of TMD.

Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive technique involving the insertion of tiny needles into the joint. This irrigate fluid through the joint in order to eliminate inflammatory byproducts.

Corticosteroid injections into the joint may be beneficial for certain patients. Injecting botulinum toxin into the jaw muscles may alleviate TMJ related discomfort on occasion.

In certain circumstances, arthroscopic surgery can be equally beneficial as open-joint surgery for treating various forms of TMJ issues. A short, thin tube is introduced into the joint space, followed by the insertion of an arthroscope and the use of small surgical tools. TMJ arthroscopy carries less risks and side effects than open-joint surgery, but it also has some limits.

If the Temporomandibular joint disorder does not respond to more conservative therapies and looks to be the result of a structural issue in the joint, the dentist may recommend joint replacement or repair surgery. However, arthrotomy has greater risks than other treatments and should be evaluated very carefully after weighing its advantages and disadvantages.

Frequently Asked Questions