The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small socket in the face that connects the jaw to your skull. This hinge point enables free movement of the jaw when biting, chewing and grinding food. It is one of the most commonly used joints in the body.
The TMJ, however, is susceptible to injury due to the constant movement of the jaws and oral cavity. Thus, it is important to consult a dental and maxillofacial professional who can provide comprehensive TMJ therapy.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Several factors may contribute to the development of TMJ disorders, says TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Northern Indiana. Trauma to the head and neck may result in the destruction of the jawbone, which stabilizes the structures of the oral cavity. Misalignment of teeth upon excessive teeth grinding and clenching may also alter surrounding membranes.
Arthritis is a systemic condition that may cause TMJ dysfunction. Osteoarthritis occurs in the elderly when the joints are susceptible to degeneration and breakage. This condition also causes weakness of the jawbone and destruction of joint attachment. Rheumatoid arthritis also causes increased bone erosion and joint deformation in the TMJ in the younger age group.
What are the Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction?
Severe jaw pain radiating to the craniofacial region is the most prominent symptom of patients with TMJ dysfunction. You also become susceptible to chronic earaches, headache, and rotatory dizziness since the same nerves are affected.
In the early stages of the disease, you may experience limitations in jaw movement especially when biting, chewing, and yawning. Whenever you open your mouth, you might feel like your jaw is about to dissociate from its normal attachment. As the dysfunction progresses, the jaw joint may lock in a certain position for several minutes. This may lead to abnormal popping sound in the TMJ upon opening or closing of the mouth.
TMJ disorder may cause severe debilitating pain especially if left untreated for long periods. So it is important to find a TMJ specialist who can help you manage your symptoms.