What is TMJ Disorder (TMD) and Why Does it Cause Pain?
The TMJ is the joint connecting the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear) to your jaw. You use this hinge to do everything from moving your jaw to eating, talking – even breathing.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) happen when there is an issue with your jaw and facial muscles. You begin to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, the joint may eventually be unable to move.
The Common Types of TMJ Disorder
If you are suffering from TMJ Disorder then you are most likely experiencing one of three main types of TMD. These are:
Degenerative Joint Disorders
Most commonly known as osteoarthritis, this joint degenerative disorder happens when cartilage holding the round ends of the two bones in your jaw together breaks or wears away.
Cartilage absorbs shocks during movement, and allows your bones to glide effortlessly over each other. When the cartilage erodes, pain and swelling will occur, and you may not be able to move your jaw.
Myofascial Pain and Associated Muscle Disorders
Also referred to as myofascial pain, muscle disorders involve pain and discomfort in all the muscles controlling the function of your jaw. You may also experience pain in your jaw muscles, shoulders and neck.
Joint Derangement Disorders
A soft, small disc located between the temporal bone and the condyle makes the opening and closing of the jaw smooth and easy. This disc is also important as it absorbs shocks to the jaw joint that happen during movement.
When an individual has a joint derangement disorder, the inner workings of the jaw are disrupted or unbalanced due to a dislocated disc or damaged bone.
This displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, there is no surgical solution to this problem.
What Are The Typical Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.
Other symptoms may include:
- Facial bruising or swelling
- Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
- Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders
When You Should Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorders
If you have tried a number of pain relief methods at home such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, and trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective. In that case, you should make a dental appointment.
When you visit with a dentist regarding jaw pain they may take the time to thoroughly discuss your dental history and take x-rays of your jaw structure to assess before providing an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. There are a variety of treatment options available for TMJ Disorders and jaw pain like:
- TMJ therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Oral Surgery
- Dental splints
- Prescription medications
Your dentist in Calgary may use a combination of therapies and treatment options to help relieve the pain associated with TMD and treat the underlying condition causing your pain.