Temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as TMJ is located at the end point of the upper jaw and the lower jaw of the teeth. It is directly in front of the ear on both sides of the head. There are moving parts inside the TMJ that allows the mouth to open and close. It is widely used throughout the day for a wide range of activities such as chewing, biting, talking etc.
Temporomandibular joints are made up of a complex array of muscles, bones and tendons. When the muscles are relaxed and balanced, the TMJ tends to function well without any pains.
A mixture of complex jaw joint problems consist of TMJ disorders. It is also known as Costen’s Syndrome or myofascial pain dysfunction. Improper functioning of either the joint or muscle can lead to various problems leading to TMJ disorder. Some of the behaviours that may lead to TMJ problems include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Regular gum chewing of nail biting
- Dental problems or misalignment of teeth
- Trauma of teeth
- Stress leading to teeth grinding or clenching
- Occupational habits or chore
There are a lot of symptoms for TMJ but some of them may or may not mean the presence of TMJ Disorders. Some of the symptoms include headache, ear pain, sounds, dizziness, fullness of the ear and ringing in the ear.
A complete range of dental and medical examinations are recommended to confirm TMJ disorder in a patient. It may take an oral and maxillofacial specialist, an otolaryngologist or a dentist specializing in disorders to confirm the diagnosis.
Some of the home remedies are quite effective in treating TMJ syndrome. They are
- Applying ice packs
- Over the counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Avoiding gum, hard foods and foods that require the mouth to open wider than normal.
- Massaging and stretching of the jaws
- Practice of relaxation and stress reduction
- Some of the major treatment methods used for this purpose include,
- Using a dental appliance to prevent the teeth from grinding
- Doing a botox to relax the jaw muscles
In worst cases, a dental surgery may be necessary
However most of the TMJ disorders can be managed with home remedies. But when the pain is unbearable one might have to go for a long term treatment.
TMJ disorders can be prevented by proper management of stress and lifestyle. They can include eating soft foods, avoiding gums, using mouth guards, reducing stress and proper exercising and maintaining the jaws.