Temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD is a term used to describe the pain and impairment of the muscles of mastication, which are responsible for the motions of the jaw and the temporomandibular joints.
The most common symptoms of TMD are discomfort and limited mandibular movement. TMD is not life-threatening, but because it can be challenging to manage the symptoms, it lowers the quality of life.
What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
It is uncertain what causes temporomandibular joint disorder, but dentists assume that symptoms are due to problems with jaw muscles or other parts of the joint. However, TMD can also result from a jaw injury, joint or head and neck muscles, such as a massive blow, joint arthritis, or movement of the disc between the ball and socket of the joint.
Grinding or clenching of the teeth can develop the disorder because of the pressure it puts on the joint. Stress can also tighten the facial and jaw muscles.
Severe discomfort or pain, which may be ongoing for years or perhaps temporarily, is frequently a sign of TMD. It can also affect one or both sides of the face.
What Are The Symptoms Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint region, neck, shoulders, face, and the ear when the mouth is open wide or during activities that require mouth opening, such as eating and speaking.
- Locked Jaw
- When opening or closing the mouth, the joint area has a clicking, crackling, or grinding noise.
- A tired feeling in the face
- Uncomfortable bite
- Inflammation on the side of the face
Aside from the symptoms stated above, TMD can cause toothaches, headaches, pain in the upper shoulder, earaches, hearing problems, tinnitus, and neck aches.
Temporomandibular joint condition symptoms often resemble other dental issues, making them difficult to identify.
How Are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Treated?
A physical examination is required to diagnose the disorder properly. The exam will also determine the probable causes of TMD.
The dentist will have to check the patient's jaw joints for indications, test the bite, and problems with the facial muscles. The jaws, TMJ, and teeth could all be visible using a complete X-ray. However, to correctly see the position of the TMJ disc as the jaw moves and the details of the joint, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computer tomography (CT) may be recommended in some cases.
For additional evaluation and treatment, the dentist could advise consulting with an oral surgeon with experience in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Home Remedies For TMD Include:
- Over-the-counter medications
- Heat or cold packs
- Change in the diet to soft food
- Avoiding activities that can trigger temporomandibular joint disorders such as extreme jaw movements, resting the chin on the hand, keeping the teeth slightly apart
- Relaxation techniques or therapy
Traditional Treatments For TMD Include:
- Dental work to balance the biting surfaces and correct bite problems
If the above treatments were ineffective, the patient might undergo transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, trigger-point injections, radio wave therapy, and low-level laser therapy.
Depending on the case, TMD might also require arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery.
How To Prevent Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
An individual can prevent or at least reduce the risk of developing temporomandibular disorders, including resolving tooth grinding, managing stress levels, learning to relax the facial muscles, and avoiding chewing gum or other chewing food.
Resolving Tooth Grinding
Teeth grinding puts a lot of pressure and stress on the jaw, which can cause TMD and jaw pain. People who grind their teeth might ask their dentist for advice on how to deal with the problem.
Frequently, dentists may advise wearing mouth guards to safeguard against the power that teeth clenching and grinding exert, protecting the teeth and the jaw in the process.
Managing Stress Levels
High stress or anxiety levels lead to stiff muscles and joints, frequently resulting in teeth grinding or clenching.
You can do several things to lessen your stress levels, including finding a method to balance work and life, taking time off from your busy schedule, relaxing vacation, getting adequate sleep, and getting professional help.
Learning To Relax Facial Muscles
Muscle tension raises the risk of TMD development. Discover the source of your body's tension and deal with it. Additionally, you can look into counseling or relaxation methods.
Chewing Gum and Hard Candies
Chewing gum and hard candies, like lollipops, can put extra strain on your jaw muscles and cause pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joints. If you’re trying to manage your TMJ disorder, it’s best to avoid these kinds of snacks altogether.
Chewy or Sticky Foods
Foods that require a lot of chewing, such as pizza crusts or caramels, may put too much pressure on your jaws and exacerbate symptoms. The same goes for sticky foods like taffy or gummy bears—these can also take additional effort to chew through and cause unnecessary stress on the joint itself.
Eating with Temporomandibular Joint Disorders disorder is possible; it just requires some extra consideration when choosing what foods to eat. Avoiding hard candies and chewy snacks is key in minimizing pain associated with this condition. Try replacing those items with softer fruits and vegetables instead so that you can still get the nutritional benefits without putting excess strain on your jaw muscles. With careful planning, you can maintain a healthy diet even if you suffer from TMJ disorder!