What You Should Know about TMJ Disorders
TMJ is a disorder of the mandible joint that opens and closes the jaw. This joint is considered to be the most complicated joint in the body due to the multiple movements required. To open the jaw wide enough to eat, the joint must be able to hinge as well as pivot in place.
The disorder begins when the cartilage discs on the joint begin to wear out, causing the joint to shift out of place when it is hinged open. When the jaw is closed, the discs pop back into place. All of this shifting causes the area to become inflamed and can make the nerves sensitive, causing pain and discomfort.
TMJ has many causes that are all made worse by the stress from chewing , biting, and bending of the head. The most common causes of TMJ can include opening the mouth too wide, misalignment of teeth, and the clenching or grinding of teeth at night. Impact of the jaw area from trauma such as a car accident can also be a major factor. Any type of arthritis may not cause the issue but will contribute to its deterioration once it sets in.
TMJ comes with many symptoms including pain when opening and closing the mouth, clicking or popping of the jaw, and pain in the face and ear areas including headaches and earaches. When the disorder becomes very bad, the locking of the jaw in place is a definite sign that TMJ has set in.
There are many options for treatment of TMJ depending on the severity of the issue. These range from pain medication, to reduction of jaw use, all the way up to surgery for the most serious cases. If you believe you are suffering from TMJ, you should consult your dentist who may then refer you to an orthopedic specialist or a neurologic expert.
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