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What are Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders?

TMJ syndrome or temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders cause pain and dysfunction around the jaw joint along with the muscles that control movement. There are a variety of symptoms that could be linked to this disorder although the actual cause is still not clear. If you experience a popping jaw or pain around the jaw joint, you should talk to your dental professional.

Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint could be one of the factors causing some disorders. Some of the most common symptoms are pain in the jaw joint, jaw muscle stiffness, limited movement or locking of the jaw, painful clicking and grating in the jaw when opening or closing the mouth. This can change the way the upper and lower teeth align. Fortunately, discomfort from these disorders will eventually subside with little to no treatment.

This type of disorder appears to be more common in women than in men. Scientists are still looking into the link between temporomandibular joint disorders and female hormones. For a lot of people, symptoms seem to come out of nowhere. Some research argues that a bad bite or braces are not the cause of this disorder. However, there is no scientific data to back up any link between the symptoms listed above to temporomandibular joint disorders. Doctors can examine problem areas including the head, neck, face, and jaw to see what could be the probable causes. Patients can dive into this further to rule out other known causes of pain. Sinus or ear infections, for example, can cause similar symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders.

There are simple steps that can be taken in order to ease symptoms. Eating soft foods, applying a warm compress to the jaw, and avoiding extreme jaw movements can help. Over-the-counter pain relief medications can also help alleviate some pain until a dental professional can examine the jaw to see if a long-term treatment is needed. However, most people do not need aggressive types of treatment for this type of disorder.

A dentist can recommend a stabilization splint or bite guard, which fits over the upper and lower teeth. These are widely used to treat this type of disorder. It is only to be used for a short period of time and does not cause any long-term effects to the bite. Surgeries should be avoided for this type of disorder because it could make the symptoms worse. Make sure to talk to your dentist and other healthcare specialists if you have persistent pain in the jaw area.