TMJ Temporomandibular Joint Treatment

Introduction –TMJ Temporomandibular Joint Treatment

Temporo-mandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of various problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles which control chewing and moving the jaw. These disorders are often incorrectly called TMJ (Temporo-mandibular joint).

The temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) is a type of hinge joint which connects the lower jaw bone (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. This joint is situated immediately in front of the ear on each side of the head. The joints are very flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side. It helps in talking, chewing, and yawning. There are various muscles attached to the bones of the jaw joint which control the position and movements of the jaw.

The cause of TMD is not yet clear, but some of the postulated causes are:

  1. Injury to the jaw or muscles of the head and neck such as from a heavy blow or whiplash.
  2. Grinding or clenching the teeth
  3. Dislocation of the ball and socket of the joint
  4. Osteoarthritis
  5. Stress.

Symptoms of TMD:

  1. Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear. This occurs while chewing, speaking, or openingof mouth wide.
  2. Limited range of motion of the joint
  3. Jaws getting locked in the open- or closed-mouth position.
  4. Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint while opening or closing the mouth or chewing.
  5. Tiredness in facial muscles
  6. Difficulty in chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite
  7. Swelling on the side of the face
  8. Other less common symptoms include toothaches, headaches, pain in neck, dizziness, ear pain, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears.

Diagnosis of TMD:

Diagnosis of TMD is done by a careful patient history, physical examination, panoramic X-rays of jaws, and imaging studies, such MRIor a computer tomography scan.

Treatments Available for TMD:

Surgery for TMD should only be considered after all other treatment options have been tried and became unsuccessful.
Some basic, conservative treatments for TMD include:

  1. Moist heat or cold packs. An ice pack is applied to the side of face and temple area for about 10 minutes. This is followed by few simple stretching exercises for the jaw as instructed by the doctor. After this, a warm towel or washcloth is applied to the side of face for about 5 minutes. This is done a few times each day.
  2. Foods. Soft foods such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains should be eaten. Avoid hard and crunchy foods whichcause stress while chewing.
  3. Prescription medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen or ibuprofen can be used for pain relief. Muscle relaxants can be helpful for people who grind or clench their teeth. Anti-anxiety medications can help to relieve stress related to TMD. Antidepressant medications in low doses can help to reduce or control pain.
  4. Low-level laser therapy. This is used to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  5. Wearing a splint or night guard. Splints and night guards are plastic mouthpieces that fit over the upper and lower teeth. They prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming together, lessening the effects of clenching or grinding the teeth.
  6. Corrective dental treatments. Corrective treatments include replacing missing teeth and using crowns, bridges, or braces to balance the biting forces.
  7. Avoiding extreme jaw movements. Keep yawning and chewing (especially gum or ice) to a minimum and avoid extreme jaw movements such as yelling or singing.
  8. Practice good posture to reduce neck and facial pain.
  9. To control clenching or grinding during the day, place the tongue between the teeth.
  10. Learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw by physical therapy or massage.

Surgical treatment:

Surgery for TMD should only be considered after all other treatment options have been tried and became unsuccessful.

There are three types of surgery for TMD:

  1. Arthrocentesis. This is a minor procedure performed in the office under general anesthesia. It is performed for sudden-onset, lock-joint cases. The surgery involves inserting needles or a blunt instrument inside the affected joint and washing out the joint with sterile fluids.
  2. Arthroscopy. The surgeon makes a small incision in front of the ear and inserts a small, thin instrument that contains a lens and light under general anesthesia. The surgeon may remove inflamed tissue or realign the disc or condyle. Compared with open surgery, this surgery is less invasive and having a shorter recovery time.
  3. Open-joint surgery. The open surgery may be required in case of deteriorating joint structures, a tumor is found in the joint or in case of severe scarring or chips of bone in the joint. This surgery carries more risk of complications.

- Link of interest: Twitter TMJ Temporomandibular Joint Treatment – Dental Treatment.


This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

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