What is TMJ?

The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint. It is a ball and socket joint that is located directly in front of the ear, and is where the upper jaw (maxilla) and the lower jaw (mandible) meet. It has muscles that make it possible for a person to open and close the mouth. A patient suffering from TMJ related problems may experience pain, tenderness and discomfort. The problems are referred to as TMJ disorders, which refer to the group of complex disorders. A problem on the joints may result to stiffness, ear pain, bite problems, locked jaws or clicking sounds.

The TMJ is a very important joint, which is also one of the most frequently used joints in the body. It is used for biting, grinding, chewing and talking. The temporomandibular joint is made up of muscles, bones and tendons. When the muscles are balanced and relaxed, the jaw opens and closes with comfort and that is why we are able to chew or yawn without experiencing any pain. The common symptoms of TMJ disorders are ear pain, locking of the jaw, headaches and chronic pain.

Very many people experience TMJ disorders. It is more prevalent among women than in men, and it affects more than 10 million people around the world. This disorder can be caused by multiple things. It may be caused by teeth grinding, which increases the wear on the cartilage of the TMJ, Habitual chewing of gum, dental problems or the misalignment of teeth and stress. People with stress often grind and clench their teeth.

It requires the expertise of a medical doctor, and other specialists to diagnose it. The disorder can, however, be treated.  TMJ treatment depends with the severity of the disorder. Treatments for advanced cases may include the fabrication of the occlusal splint which helps to prevent wear and tear on the joint. This aids to improve the alignment of the upper and lower teeth. Surgery can also be done so as to deal with the disorder.

If it is diagnosed early enough treating it is easy and can be done by the patient. This can be through eating soft foods. This will help in resting the muscles and joints in the mouth. A patient should avoid chewing gum and should relax the muscles with moist heat. This should be done for half an hour two times daily. TMJ treatment includes surgery, relaxation techniques, home treatments, medications and therapies.


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