What is TMJ?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013, 8:34 pm

We’ve all heard of “TMJ,” and that it can severely impact the health of our mouth. But what exactly is TMJ?

TMJ is actually an abbreviation, which stands for “Temporomandibular Joint.” The TMJ is a small joint located where your skull and lower jaw meet. This joint moves whenever you chew, talk, or swallow, and is one of the most commonly used and complex joints in the body.

TMJ disorders are defined by pain in the jaw and muscles around the jaw. Some common symptoms include popping sounds in the jaw when eating, migraines, neck pain, and difficulty swallowing food. TMJ disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including joint damage and genetics, and are divided into three categories:

  1. Internal Derangement of the Joint.  Internal Derangement of the Joint is usually caused by  a dislocated jaw or injury to the jaw. In addition, it is also sometimes caused by torn ligaments that hold the jaw in place.  Although the jaw will continue to function even when it is damaged, this condition is usually treated by reducing strain on the jaw, eating a diet of soft foods, or using a splint or bite guard to correct the condition. Your dentist may also describe anti-inflammatory drugs.
  2. Degenerative Joint Disease. This commonly occurs in adults, as a result of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, even normal use of the joint can cause degeneration can occur to the TMJ, limiting its function. Most patients are treated for this condition by simply wearing plastic bite plates, which fit over the upper and lower teeth, reducing tension that comes from clenching and grinding teeth.
  3. Myofascial Pain Disorder. Myofascial Pain Disorders are degenerative conditions, which occur when there is discomfort in the muscles that surround the jaw. Like other forms of TMJ, this type of pain is usually treated non-surgically, with pain medication, and bite plate therapy. If a patient experiences joint damage with any of these disorders, surgery may be required.

TMJ Treatment Care in Toccoa

If you want to learn more about the dental care services we offer, contact us today at 706-886-9439 to schedule an appointment or ask a question. Wilbanks Smile Center is located in Toccoa, GA.

 

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Category: oral health, TMJ


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