Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ)acts like a hinge connecting your lower jawbone to your skull on both sides of your head. This joint helps you to open and close your mouth when performing different tasks like talking, biting, and eating. Sometimes this joint develops pain and discomfort that makes it difficult for you to perform ordinary tasks with your mouth. This is what is referred to as TMJ disorder. In this article, you will learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorder.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

It is not yet clear what exactly causes TMJ disorder, but doctors claim that the pain in your TMJ could be as a result of various factors, including genetics, arthritis, and injuries. Pain in your TMJ could also be as a result of excessive clenching and grinding of teeth. The good thing is that TMJ pain and discomfort are temporary and can easily be managed.

How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?

To determine if you are suffering from TMJ disorder, your doctor will discuss with you your symptoms and perform a physical examination of the affected joint. For instance, they will listen to and feel the affected jaw when you open and close your mouth. The doctor will also observe a range of motions in the affected jaw and press on it to identify the sites of discomfort and pain.

Sometimes your doctor will recommend advanced diagnostic methods, such as dental x-rays, CT scans, and MRI. These advanced methods will help your doctor to examine your teeth and jaw, offer detailed images of the affected jawbones, and reveal complications with your TMJ’s disk and soft tissue. In severe cases, doctors recommend TMJ arthroscopy, in which your doctor will insert a small thin tube, commonly referred to as a cannula, into your joint space and a tiny camera (arthroscope) to examine the affected joint and help make the right diagnosis.

How to Treat TMJ Disorder

In most cases, the symptoms of this disorder go away naturally without treatment. But if the problem persists, your doctor may recommend various treatment options. For instance, they might prescribe some medicines, including pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and tricyclic antidepressants to help you manage the symptoms. Aside from medication, this disorder can also be treated through various therapies including oral splints, mouth guards (occlusal appliances), physical therapy, and counseling (if the problem is due to teeth clenching and grinding, leaning on the chin, or nail-biting). If none of these treatments work, the doctor may recommend surgery. For more information on TMJ disorder, talk to Head and Neck today.