TMJ Disorders – Everything You Need To Know

TMJ Disorders - Everything You Need To Know

Do you feel pain and discomfort while opening or closing your mouth? Do you hear clicking or popping sounds on one or both sides of the face when eating? If yes, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. But don’t worry; while the name “TMJ disorders” may sound like something serious, TMJ disorders are easily preventable and treatable in most cases. 

This blog discusses everything you need to know about TMJ disorders – what are these and how they can be prevented and treated. So, read on to find out more!

What Are The Causes Of Sudden TMJ Pain?

According to the British Society for Occlusal Studies, TMJ disorders and pain can be caused due to various reasons. These include:

  • Imbalance dental bite 
  • Teeth grinding 
  • Muscle disorders 
  • Bone degenerative disorders 
  • Trauma to the jaw joints 
  • Misalignment of the jaws

Is TMJ Something To Worry About?

TMJ disorders can cause various complications if left untreated. For example, long-standing jaw joint disorders can damage the teeth, leading to sensitivity, tooth decay, and gum disease. Furthermore, TMJ disorders can create difficulties in eating, increasing the risk of malnutrition and generalised weakness. So yes, TMJ disorders should not be considered lightly. If you feel that you or a loved one is suffering from TMJ disease, it should be diagnosed and treated without delay. 

Is TMJ Life Threatening?

As mentioned earlier, TMJ disorders can cause various complications that can significantly affect one’s dental health and quality of life, these disorders are generally not considered life-threatening. Still, one should not take them lightly and seek expert help if they observe any problems with the functioning of their jaw joints. 

What Are The Causes Of Sudden TMJ Pain?

Sudden pain in the jaw joints can be caused if someone bites forcefully on a hard object. Furthermore, this situation can also arise if there is trauma or injury to the jaw joints. In any case, if someone feels a sudden pain in one or both of their jaw joints, they should consult a TMJ specialist immediately. 

How Do You Treat TMJ?

There are two main approaches to treating TMJ disorders: non-surgical and surgical. 

  1. Non-surgical Treatment 

In many cases, TMJ disorders are temporary and go away with simple non-invasive measures. Some of the non-surgical treatment options that have been proven effective, and recommended by the US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in eliminating mild TMJ issue are:

  • Switching a soft diet to reduce load on the jaw joints 
  • Heat therapy over the affected area
  • Application of ice packs to reduce the inflammation 
  • Restoring optimal dental bite to reduce stress on the TMJs
  • Over the counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants 
  • Muscle exercises and physical therapy 
  • Intra-oral appliances which fit over the mouth and help restore the optimal position and angulation of the jaws, thereby reducing stress over them
  1. Surgical Treatment 

If the above non-invasive measures aren’t effective, your dentist may suggest a surgical treatment. 

  • TMJ Surgery – if TMJ disorders are not being treated with non-surgical procedures, your dentist may consider performing surgery. 
  • Bite Adjustment – treatment may also be provided to restore the optimal occlusion of the teeth, and overcome parafunctional habits like teeth grinding (bruxism).
  • Botox Therapy – besides being used for facial cosmetic treatment, botox injections are also useful in treating TMJ disorders by reducing stress on TMJ-related muscles
  • Arthrocentesis – this is a procedure in which a fine needle pushes a liquid into the TMJ. The pressure of the fluid removes the scar-like tissue (adhesions). Furthermore, the pressurised liquid also removes substances that cause inflammation around the TMJs. 

Can TMJ Cause A Jaw To Get Stuck?

TMJ disorders can create difficulty in the opening and closing of the jaws. Long-standing TMJ disorders can significantly hamper TMJ movement and a time comes when the jaws get stuck. At this stage, either it becomes difficult to open or close the mouth. This usually happens when one or both of the jaw joints get dislocated. 

Does TMJ Affect Hearing? If So, How Do You Deal With It?

The TMJs are located very close to the ear. As a result, inflammation around the TMJ and its muscles can block the eustachian tubes, affecting one’s hearing. If this condition is not treated timely, the hearing problems can become more severe and may even damage the ears. 

Can TMJ Go Away On Its Own?

TMJ disorders can go away on their own if they are diagnosed at an early stage. Long-standing TMJ disorders usually require non-surgical or surgical treatment before they are completely eliminated. 

Can TMJ Be Treated Without Surgery?

Yes, mild to moderate TMJ issues can be treated without surgery in their early stages. Some of the available non-surgical treatment options are physiotherapy, hot or cold treatment, diet management, and psychological treatment. 

What Should I Look For In A TMJ Specialist?

An ideal TMJ specialist is one who has undergone additional training and has extensive experience in treating TMJ disorders. Many dentists obtain additional clinical certifications to treat problems related to the jaw joints. 

Does TMJ Cause Headaches?

Yes, TMJ disorders can cause headaches. This happens when there is excessive pressure on the muscles associated with the TMJ or those used for chewing. A spasm of these muscles can cause headaches. So, if you frequently have headaches along with difficulty in mouth opening, you should consider visiting a TMJ specialist for expert advice. 

What Are Some Ways To Get Rid Of TMJ?

As mentioned earlier, there are two major approaches to TMJ disorder treatment: non-surgical and surgical. TMJ specialists usually start with non-surgical measures to treat these disorders. However, if these approaches are unsuccessful, they may consider surgical treatment to treat the underlying issue. 

If you or a loved one has TMJ pain and they are looking for a relatable and renowned TMJ specialist in Hornchurch, Harrow Dental is the best place to visit. We have a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who are trained to treat TMJ problems. So, book an appointment today and let us keep you healthy and smiling.  

Author: Dr Saleh Aria

Dr Aria qualified in Stockholm, Sweden and has been practicing in the UK since 1999. He has extensive experience in all aspects of Dentistry and post-graduate education in most areas. He has a very special interest in Dental Implants, Invisalign, Six Month Smiles, Cosmetic Dentistry, Smile Makeovers, complicated restorative cases, management of stress related Dental problems (tooth-wear, headaches) and difficult cosmetic cases.

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