TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder refers to conditions that impact the jaw joints, muscles, and ligaments surrounding them. These conditions can lead to problems such as headaches, jaw pain, and challenges with closing and opening the mouth. It can also cause jaw stiffness, neck pain, and facial pain. Patients with this disorder may experience shoulder pain, earaches, jaw clicking, and migraines.
Healthcare providers can diagnose TMJ disorder through a physical examination or dental checkup. During the visit, they will assess your jaw movement as you close and open your mouth. They will also apply pressure on your face and jaw to identify areas of discomfort. Additionally, they may conduct imaging tests for a detailed view of the jaw joints and surrounding structures. These imaging tests may include dental X-rays and CT (computed tomography) scans. They can also take MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and TMJ arthroscopy (used for diagnosis and, in some cases, treatment).
The TMJ disorder treatment may involve employing a range of methods based on the severity and specific symptoms. Some typical treatment options encompass:
Healthcare providers may prescribe medications to help alleviate pain and inflammation. These include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain relievers. They may also give you antidepressants, which can alter how your body perceives pain.
This involves engaging in TMJ exercises aimed at stretching the jaw and strengthening the muscles surrounding the jaw joints. These exercises can be beneficial for improving jaw mobility and reducing discomfort.
Dental appliances are used to ease the pain of TMJ disorder. For instance, oral splints are employed to position your jaw more favorably. Also, mouthguards alleviate the impacts of grinding and clenching.
TMJ Surgical Treatments
If medicines and other therapies are not effective surgical intervention may be necessary. These include open-joint surgery, TMJ arthroscopy, and arthrocentesis.
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