The Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ) are hinges that connect your jaws to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. These joints allow you to move your mouth up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn.
Some people can occasionally have problems with these hinges and it can cause TMJ Disorders (TMJD).
Among the symptoms are: pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders and in or around the ear, difficulty chewing, lockjaw, and irritating popping or grating sounds when the mouth moves. Patients may also have toothaches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears or tinnitus.
Experts believe that symptoms are caused by problems with the muscles of the jaws or with the parts of the joints. TMJ Disorders often cause severe pain and discomfort. It can be temporary or last many years and it might affect one or both sides of your face. More women than men have it, and it’s most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Joint disorder has evident causes like Malocclusion and/or Misaligned dentition.
Some of the other causes are the following:
• Injury to the jaw area, the joint, or the muscles of the head and neck, from whiplash or a heavy blow
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint
• Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
• Arthritis in the joint
• Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench your teeth
For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Generally, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.
Headaches are a common symptom but it is not often traced to the disorder. A study by the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine found that headaches related to TMJD are often misdiagnosed as tension headaches.
Managing pain and discomfort
There are self-care steps you can take that may be helpful in easing symptoms, such as:
• Eating soft food
• Hot compress is recommended
• Avoiding extreme jaw movements such as wide yawning, loud singing, and chewing gum
• Engaging in stress-relief activities
• Practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises may also help increase jaw movement. A dentist or a physical therapist can recommend exercises to help ease the condition.
• Using over-the-counter pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat the pain
• Using stabilization splints. A dentist may recommend an oral appliance, called a stabilization splint or bite guard to ease the symptoms. This is a plastic guard that fits over the upper or lower teeth that is used for a short period of time. It is used to reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching and grinding.
Good oral health care is also key, as misalignment in the bite can cause pain in the jaw area. An impacted wisdom tooth has also been occasionally found to be a cause. A dental visit is important to check for these conditions. A dentist can also check for damage to enamel from the tooth grinding associated with TMJD.
As part of its mission to provide the best in quality healthcare, Healthway Medical has a team of dental professionals that specialize in TemporoMandibular Joint Therapy for the relief of TMJD discomfort using the latest techniques in oral care. To find out more about the treatment and Healthway Medical’s other dental services, call the Customer Care Hotline (02) 751 4929 or visit the Healthway Medical website at www.healthway.com.ph
About Healthway Medical
As the most trusted and preferred network of mall-based clinics in the Philippines, Healthway Medical has revolutionized the way healthcare is being provided to its patients for nearly two decades. The company offers unparalleled customer-centric experience on top of optimum primary and multidisciplinary care from its reputable and experienced doctors, allowing its seven clinics at the Alabang Town Center, Shangri-La Plaza, Market! Market!, Festival Mall, 8 Adriatico Manila, SM The Block and Greenbelt 5 to earn a remarkable standing in the country in terms of preventive healthcare.