TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome is a condition affecting the jaw, where the muscles and nerves are affected by damage to the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. This condition causes pain while chewing or talking, clicking and popping in the jaw, tooth grinding, inflammation and swelling. Poor posture, stress, chronic inflammatory arthritis or trauma to the jaw are factors that can increase the likelihood of TMJ developing. A patient suffering from TMJ or jaw pain can eat soft foods, avoid chewing gum, and practice good posture and stress reduction techniques at home.
Common signs include headaches that are similar to migraines. Earaches and pressure behind the eye may occur. The patient might experience pain when opening his or her mouth wide such as when yawning. The way the bottom and top teeth align with each other may change abruptly.
The symptoms of TMJ are similar to symptoms of other conditions, so it is not always easily diagnosable. The dentist will need to take a complete dental and medical history. He will need to conduct an examination and possibly take x-rays to get a proper diagnosis.
Yes, it can. Symptoms can be alleviated by correcting the bite that is causing the muscles and tendons to overexert. TMJ can oftentimes be improved with occlusal appliances, bite guards or orthotics that hold the teeth in proper alignment and prevent grinding. In some cases, physical therapy may be effective to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. In the most severe cases, surgery might be indicated. TMJ arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery done in an outpatient setting. The most severe cases of TMJ could require a complete jaw replacement surgery.
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