What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, connects the lower jaw to the skull. These two jaw joints allow us to move, open and close jaws. They form the complex joints in the human body and other muscles and perform regular muscle actions like talking, chewing, swallowing and yawning.
What is TMD?
TMD is a Temporomandibular disorder caused in the region of jaw muscles. It causes discomfort in the nerves and joints, leading to chronic facial pain. It leads to immense pain due to a dysfunction in the facial and jaw region which prevents the complex process of muscles, joints and bones from working in harmony.
What are the main causes of TMJ disorder?
Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ disorder is caused due to an injury to the surrounding tissue or jaw joints. Some of the common causes include:
- Dislocation of the disc between the socket joint and ball
- Due to misalignment of the disc or its erosion
- Damage to joint’s cartilage due to arthritis
- Damage caused due to a sudden impact to your jaw bone or because of a blow
- The improper technique of biting or acute trauma
What are the common symptoms of TMJ?
TMJ disorder usually affects people between the age of 20 to 40 years with more cases reported by women than men. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder are:
- Constant jaw pain
- Difficulty in chewing food or opening the mouth
- Having a tired facing on your face
- A popping, clicking or grating sound in the jaw joint while opening or closing your mouth.
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Teeth do not fit together correctly
- Listening to a ringing sound in your ears or Tinnitus
- Persistant toothache
- Ear pain and headaches
- Experiencing pain in the shoulders and neck
How is TMJ disorder diagnosed?
A TMJ disorder is usually diagnosed during a dental checkup. The dentist will observe the motion of your mouth on how you open and close it.
The healthcare professional will use the follower technique to diagnose a TMJ disorder.
- Press your jaw and face to know where you are experiencing discomfort
- Try to feel areas around the jaw joints when you open or close your mouth
The dentist may also recommend a radiograph or X-rays to see the extent of the damage. These include:
- CBCT scan – a CBCT or Cone-beam computed tomography will help the healthcare provider get a good view of the facial anatomy. To understand the damage properly, the scan captures over a thousand images of your facial bones, teeth, jaws, and sinuses.
- X-ray – Panoramic X-ray to get an overview of the jawbone, teeth and level of TMJ damage
- MRI Scan – MRI scan will show the position of jaw discs, inflammation and level of jaw locking.
What are the treatment options for TMJ?
TMJ disorder treatment ranges from simple jaw exercises to injections and surgery. The treatment may range from non-surgical treatments to conservative treatments like injection followed by surgeries in chronic cases. Some of the other treatments include:
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
- Radio Wave Therapy
- Trigger-point injections
- Botulinum Toxin (Botox)
- Relaxation exercises
Best TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), along with the Royal Surrey County Hospital, has suggested nine exercises that help to fix dislocated TMJ at home. These include:
Goldfish Exercises (Partial Opening)
- Place one finger in front of the ear near their TMJ and your tongue touching the roof of the mouth. Now put your pointer finger on your chin.
- Drop your lower jaw partially and close it. Ensure to maintain mild resistance, but it should not hurt.
- Continue it six times daily
Goldfish Exercises (Full Opening)
- Place your finger in front of the ear where the TMJ is located and place your tongue touching the roof of the mouth
- Place your pointer on your chin and open your lower jaw fully
- For a little variation, place a finger on each of the TMJ and drop the lower jaw as well as back
- Perform this exercise six times daily
Opening mouth with resistance
- Place your thumb below your chin, slowly open your mouth, and gently push it against the chin to provide resistance.
- Hold it for 3 to 6 seconds and close the mouth slowly.
- Keep your back straight and pull your chin back like a double chin.
- Hold it in this position 3 to 10 times
Resisted closing of the mouth
- Squeeze your chin using your thumb and index
- Close your mouth by gently placing a little pressure on your chin to ensure the muscles are strong
Resisted opening of the mouth
- Squeeze your chin with your thumb and slowly open your mouth
- Keep it in this position and hold for 3 to 6 seconds by gently putting resistance to your chin
- Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and slowly try to open and close the mouth
Move your jaw sideways
Place a ¼-inch object, for instance, stacked tongue depressors, in between your teeth and move your jaw sideways. Later increase the thickness of these objects, placing them between the teeth to improve the jaw strength.
Relaxing Jaw Exercise
Place your tongue at the top of your mouth and behind your upper front teeth allowing your teeth to part while relaxing the jaw muscles.
Move Your Jaw Forward
Place a ¼-inch object between your front teeth and slowly move the bottom of your jaw to fix the dislocated TMJ at home by aligning the upper and bottom teeth. Increase the thickness of the object to better the movement.
When to see a doctor?
Individuals experiencing chronic pain or tenderness to their jaw must immediately seek medical attention. Besides, if you cannot open or close your jaw, then it is recommended to visit a healthcare provider, dentist, or TMJ specialist to get the best treatment and relief from the problem.
Get started TMJ disorder treatment at Allevia
Allevia Medical Center is one of the best dental hospitals providing TMJ treatment in Qatar. They comprise the best dentist in Qatar with years of expertise in treating TMJ disorders. Dentists have the knack for understanding patient dental problems and providing accurate diagnoses and treatment to resolve the issue.
FAQs about TMJ Disorders
- Whom should I see for TMJ treatment?
- Based on the diagnosis done by the healthcare provider, you will be referred to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon for further treatment. Besides, you can also visit a dentist or an orthodontist to get assistance to ensure your muscles, teeth and joints work correctly.
- How do I know if I have a TMJ disorder?
- Are you experiencing constant pain in and around your ear? Do you find it difficult to chew food or get pain when opening and closing your mouth? Do you hear a clicking sound when pressing your finger over the joint over the ear? These may signify you have a TMJ disorder.
- Does TMJ disorder treatment require surgery?
- If it gets cured through non-surgical therapies, lifestyle changes or medications, TMJ does not require surgeries. However, if the pain and discomfort are consistent, it may require surgery.
- Can medication help TMJ?
- Yes, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers will help relieve pain associated with TMJ.
- What can a dentist do for TMJ?
- A dentist can help prevent teeth clenching and grinding by recommending a custom dental appliance that provides little relief from TMJ.
- Can we fix dislocated TMJ at home?
- Minor TMJ dysfunction can go away without any treatment. However, repeated or constant pain or tenderness due to TMJ requires treatment. An average treatment for TJ ranges between 18 months to 3 years.
- Are there any home remedies to treat TMJ?
- Yes. Home remedies include applying an ice pack to the jaw to relieve pain. Additionally, using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxants and eating soft food will help in relieving pain caused due to TMJ.
The severity of TMJ disorder depends significantly on the symptoms and how long it persists. While a minor TMJ disorder gets rectified soon on its own, if the symptoms continue for an extended period, it is recommended to visit a doctor and get to the root of the issue. Besides, if the pain is not resolved through TMJ exercises and worsens, it is necessary to book an appointment and defeat the case with medical assistance.