TMJ is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint and other muscles located in and around the jaw. It is a painful condition that can make everyday activities such as talking and chewing an agonizing experience. The pain associated with TMJ can range from mild to very severe and can be either intermittent or constant.
It was commonly believed that TMJ was a stress related condition but recent reserach has lead many clinicians to believe there are multiple causes for TMJ. One of the most common causes however, is a problem affecting bite. Bite is the way the upper and lower teeth sit together and can be interrupted by alterations to teeth structure, possibly from a lost or broken tooth. When the bite is altered it can force a displacement of the lower jaw forcing the muscles to overcompensate for the change.
In other cases TMJ can be the result of a head trauma involving a sudden jolt or blow to the head or face. This can cause damage to the muscles which will slowly manifest itself as TMJ. Other common causes for TMJ include sub-conscious teeth grinding called bruxism, teeth clenching or uneven surfaces on the teeth.
The most common symptom of TMJ is, unfortunately, pain. This pain can be very unpleasant and can affect all areas of the head and face and can even travel into the neck and shoulders. Sufferers often experience clicking, popping or locking during jaw movement. It is also common for areas of the face to swell making any kind or jaw movement very difficult.
A dentist will diagnose TMJ by conducting a simple clench test. If the patient experiences pain when the jaw is firmly shut it could be an indicator of TMJ. More extensive testing includes making dental moulds and mounting the impressions on a machine called an articulator to mimic jaw movement and discover the problem. Some relief form TMJ can be had from over-the-counter medication, but only a long-term cure will bring an end to the pain completely. Long-term solutions can include physiotherapy, dental treatment or having a dental appliance fitted to prevent any bite alteration or grinding. If you are suffering with pain in any part of your face or jaw, make an appointment with a Molesey dentist to have a test done for TMJ and you could bring an end to your suffering.