A Guide to Help You Understand Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder

TMJ, the acronym for temporal-mandibular joint disorder, refers to a musculoskeletal condition that affects the joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull on either side of the head. The condition is sometimes abbreviated as TMD, whereby the latter acronym indicates a problem serious enough to warrant an orthodontists’ intervention.

TMJ occurs when the mandibular bone becomes misaligned but can also be due to damage or injury to muscles, ligaments, and bones in the lower jaw.

Causes of Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder or Tmj

Potential causes of TMJ or TMD include physical trauma to the lower jaw, teeth misalignment, teeth grinding, gum chewing, chronic conditions like arthritis, and stress. In essence, family dentists assert that the likelihood that you develop TMJ correlates with the strain or overuse of your temporal-mandibular joint. However, you cannot be certain that you have TMJ until you get a proper orthodontic exam. Confirmation from your dentist of this condition should prompt you to seek TMJ treatment.

Common Symptoms of TMJ or TMD

Symptoms that you should look out for if you suspect you have an issue with either one or both of your temporal-mandibular joints include:

  • Pain when you clench the lower joint or when you yawn
  • Popping sounds in your ears while chewing food
  • Experiencing intense pain in the ear whenever you move your temporal-mandibular joint
  • Locking of the jaws or difficulty opening your mouth

Fortunately, you can find our orthodontist in Hanover, PA who can quickly diagnose and recommend a viable TMJ treatment.

Treatments Options for Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder

The first course of TMJ treatment that your orthodontist is likely to recommend involves several self-administered home remedies. These home-based procedures typically aim to alleviate TMJ discomfort by reducing the existing strain or overuse of the temporal-mandibular joint. Common examples of home-based remedies for your temporal-mandibular joint problem include:

  • Use of over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that facilitate the natural repair of damaged or injured muscle and ligament tissue.
  • A jaw massage that you self-administer via circular motions of the fingertips over muscles and ligaments that constitute the temporal-mandibular joint, which is located just below the ears.
  • Limiting the strain and overuse of your temporal-mandibular joint. In this case, our orthodontist might recommend that you avoid hard or chewy foods, clenching your teeth, among others.
  • Relaxation techniques that help you combat stress and, therefore, reduce habit that aggravate the temporal-mandibular joint, such as grinding teeth.

When self-administered TMJ treatment proves ineffective against your condition, our family orthodontist may recommend the use of occlusal orthotic devices. Orthotics or bite splints help realign the muscles, ligaments, and bones in the temporal-mandibular joint, thus helping alleviate the condition.

Our orthodontist can also recommend the use of an Invisalign aligner made from a non-toxic plastic composite. The aligner is typically worn at night or during periods of the day when TMJ aggravating habits are dominant, such as when driving on a busy highway.

If you have a severe temporal-mandibular condition, our orthodontist may recommend orthodontic braces to remedy your condition. Remember, in most cases, TMJ is usually a result of having an improper bite, and correcting the bite can be an effective way of reducing the pain and pressure caused by the condition.