Your mouth contains many structures, including your teeth. Your jaw is a bone that connects to the bones of your skull, forming an elongated C-shaped bone. Your upper and lower jaw can move in several ways, so you can speak, eat, and yawn. Some muscles control your mouth and jaw, which attach to the bones by tendons.
Pain from these muscles is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). But you may hear it called TMJ. The cause of TMD is challenging to determine. Your pain may be due to friction from grinding your teeth, genetics, or arthritis. TMD pain usually goes away on its own or with self-care, but surgery may help some people.
Today, we will explore some essential things you should know about temporomandibular joint disorders. Here’s what you need to know:
What Is the Tempromandible?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the body. The TMJ is the small joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to your temporal bones, located in the sides of your skull. The TMJ allows us to move our jaws in all directions, press our teeth together, and provide an entire range of movements for our lips, tongue, and face.
What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a complex issue. Many causes and risk factors contribute to TMD, including dental problems, poor temporomandibular joint function, and genetic and structural issues. When we speak about TMD, we refer to a group of people who have pain in the temporomandibular joint and surrounding structures rather than one specific medical condition.
TMD can be due to a problem with the jaw joint structures, or it can be due to the muscles that attach to the jaw. Often, this pain is due to a phenomenon called joint and muscle “referred pain” (where the pain is perceived at the site of the joint and also felt in another place due to the muscles that attach to the joint).
In addition to the above, TMD can also be due to stress, poor dental work, improper jaw positioning, and traumatic injury.
How Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Treated?
Treatment for TMD can be divided into non-surgical and surgical options. Non-surgical options can be divided into self-care and dentist instructed choices. Surgical options can be divided into a conservative approach and a more invasive approach.
These include rest, splinting (placing a rigid object in the mouth to prevent teeth from contacting each other), physical therapy, and a calcium and vitamin D diet.
Medication, such as Tylenol or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or medications that also treat TMD such as muscle relaxants or antidepressants. Prosthetic devices, such as a splint or bite guard, decrease the grinding of teeth together.
This is also referred to as a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is usually performed by dentists, involves placing a device in the mouth, and aims to reposition the lower jaw and correct the abnormal relationship the teeth have with each other.
This is referred to as surgery, usually performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. This aims to reposition the lower jaw or perform an osteotomy (breaking) of, the lower jaw to realign it.
The Bottom Line
When trying to understand TMDs, it is essential to know that everyone has their symptoms, which several things can cause. It is vital to seek out the right treatment to experience relief. Pain can be treated with a combination of non-invasive and surgical solutions. Please, feel free to write to us if you have any questions. We’re always happy to help.
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