TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. It usually occurs when the jaw becomes out of alignment, either due to an accident or other cause, or as a result of muscle tension. In some cases, the disorder can be due to more serious underlying issues. There is no cure for TMJ, and people who have it should take steps to avoid its complications.
There are 2 matching bones along each side of the head, which are called the temporal bones. They are situated right next to each ear, right above the eyes. The abbreviation TMJ refers only to the name of this joint, but it’s often used to refer to any disorders or ailments of this area. Most TMJ-related problems are caused by the impact of external forces on the structures surrounding the joint.
If you suspect that you have TMJ, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will conduct an exam to see if there are any signs of structural or physiological misalignment of the jaw joint. Your doctor will perform a variety of tests, including a CT scan of your face, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, x-rays, and bone scans. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis of the TMJ problem and on your specific symptoms.
One of the most common treatments for TMJ involves using a device called a mandibular advancement device, or MRIel. This device is custom-made for your mouth and is worn while you sleep, enabling your orthodontist to break the misaligned jawbone and pop up the crowns. A CT scan will show whether or not the implants are stable and if they are causing any pain. X-rays will show whether or not the bones are soft or solid. Bone fragility, tmj arthritis, and inflammation of the joints can also be determined during a CT scan.
In more extreme cases of TMJ, or when the misalignment or pain requires oral surgery, sedation may be administered. Often this type of sedation uses anti-anxiety drugs to calm the patient and minimize the pain of the procedure. A general anesthetic is sometimes required, so that the dentist may give enough of a dose to perform the necessary dental work. Once the procedure has been completed, the patient may be given a prescription for pain medication. This should not be done often, since the medicine wears off over time. If the patient feels uncomfortable, however, he or she should inform his or her dentist as soon as possible.
TMJ may cause discomfort and pain in the mouth and jaw area, but there are effective treatments available for those who suffer from it. These include daily use of custom-made mouth guards made to strengthen the muscles of the jaws, chewing gum made of natural ingredients that numb the taste buds, and avoiding excessive bite pressure. Regular use of these and other treatments should result in improvement in symptoms and an increase in the overall quality of life for those who have tmj.