Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder: Its Main Causes, Symptoms and Potential Treatments

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) refers to the joint found in a person’s jaw. It is specifically the hinge joint which links your mandible or lower jaw into your skull’s temporal bone. Your temporal bone is the bone found in the front part of your ear, in both sides of your head. The flexibility of the joint is undeniable, considering its ability to let your jaw move side to side and down and up without any trouble. It also guarantees ease in talking, chewing, smiling and yawning. Muscles found in this joint works in taking complete control of the movements and position of your jaw. TMJ has 6 major components. These are the following:

  • Capsule
  • Ligaments
  • Articular surface found in your temporal bone
  • Articular disc
  • Mandibular condyles
  • Lateral pterygoid
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TMJ Disorder Explained

TMJ disorder is a condition which triggers painful and dysfunctional jaw joints and muscles that work in controlling the movements of your jaw. Certain conditions affecting your chewing muscles and jaw joint also fall under TMJ disorders. It should be noted that these disorders differ from one person to another. The responses of sufferers of the condition also vary widely, depending upon the severity of their case.


TMJ disorders cause problems in your joint and jaw and the muscles surrounding them. One problem is pain that tends to travel all throughout your neck, jaw or face. It also causes stiff jaw muscles, painful jaw popping or clicking, limited jaw movement, jaw lock and changes in the manner through which your teeth fit together.

One of the primary causes of TMJ disorders is arthritis. This often results from injuries or teeth grinding at night. The problem might also be caused by disk dislocation or displacement. The affected disk is the one found between your socket and jawbone. Displaced disks have the tendency of producing popping or clicking sounds, limitations in jaw movements, and pain when closing and opening your mouth.

There are also instances when the displaced disk that triggers TMJ disorders develop from a perforation or hole, which produces grating sounds when moving your joints. Other conditions that might trigger the problem include rheumatoid arthritis and trauma that trigger some parts of your TMJ to fuse. This often leads to the prevention of proper jaw movements.

Possible Treatments for TMJ Disorders

1. Natural Treatments

There are plenty of self-care or natural practices that are valuable in easing TMJ disorder symptoms. These include eating only soft foods, ice pack application, stress reduction and relaxation techniques Extreme jaw movements like prolonged gum chewing, loud singing and wide yawning should also be prevented.

2. Use of Occlusal Splints

Also called bite guards, occlusal splints refer to removable devices created by a reliable dentist. This is useful when worn over your teeth because of its effectiveness in providing an aid in treating malocclusion and TMJ disorders. The splints can also be used in preventing your teeth from coming together. This reduces the risk of clenching or grinding your teeth. Splints are also useful in removing pressure from the muscles and joints of your jaw.

3. Pain Relief Medications

Using over-the-counter pain relief medications is often beneficial for TMJ disorder sufferers. Sufferers can also try using anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs like Ibuprofen. These medications can offer temporary relief from the discomfort in your joint. Contacting your dentist to receive prescriptions for strong anti-inflammatory or pain relief medications, anti-depressants and muscle relaxants can also help those who wish to obtain relief from the severe symptoms of the problem.

4. Stretches and Gentle Exercises

A good dentist is someone who can offer information about the best exercises to help your jaw relax,  and ensure that its movements are safe for your dental and oral health. Exercises and stretches ideal in treating TMJ disorders are those that strengthen and stretch your jaw muscles.

5. Surgical Procedures

Your chosen dentist may also recommend surgical procedures if your previous treatments do not provide desirable results in treating TMJ. One famous surgical procedure for TMJ disorder is arthrocentesis. This process involves inserting needles into your joints as a means of irrigating fluid directly to the joints and getting rid of any inflammatory byproducts and debris.

Your dentist may also suggest surgical procedures designed to replace or repair your joint, in case the pain in your jaw does not go away with conservative treatments. These surgeries are also beneficial in case structural problems trigger the disorder.

TMJ Doctor in Phoenix, AZ

If you are looking for a dentist who can offer help in treating your TMJ disorder, then consider contacting Dr. Darren L. Flowers, DMD. He is an experienced dental professional with a well-trained and proficient staff. Expect to cure your TMJ disorder after visiting Dr. Flowers’ dental office and dealing with him and his highly competent team.

Don’t wait any longer than you have to. Call Dr. Flowers now at  (623) 551-8000.

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