Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJD)

Physio Support Dublin

The temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints in our body. We don’t even realize how many different movements it performs every day. Speaking, eating, expressing emotions, we make it work intensively. In addition, when eating each meal, it is loaded in different ways. All this results in the fact that it starts to function incorrectly – there is a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (DSJ).

SYMPTOMS OF TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DYSFUNCTION

Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints has a slightly different picture in each patient and can easily be confused with other pathologies, however, a group of the most characteristic symptoms can be distinguished.

People with TMJD often notice the occurrence of various noises during movement in the temporomandibular joints, these may be crackling or cracking noises. In addition, they notice jumping in the joints, periodically appearing inability to open the mouth wide, or locking the jaw after wide opening.

Accompanying pain ailments have different forms. These may be pains in the ear area, often confused with earache or toothache. Patients may also experience radiating headaches resembling migraines or tension headaches. The masticatory muscles (examined intraorally by the doctor, and orally palpable in the area of ​​the angle of the mandible – back of the cheek) are painful to palpation, i.e. during pressure, and sometimes they also hurt on their own. In addition, there may be pain during extreme movements – when opening the mouth wide, yawning, singing, etc.

Causes of temporomandibular joint dysfunction There can be many reasons for disorders in the temporomandibular joint, and in some patients, it is impossible to determine a specific cause. In young people, the most common causes are stress causing habitual teeth grinding, bad habits and malocclusion. Bad habits include chewing gum too often. Malocclusion, on the other hand, results in incorrect loads on the masticatory muscles, causing their increased tension and disorders in the temporomandibular joints.In the elderly, one of the most common causes is unfilled interdental gaps. The lack of one tooth, trivial for the patient, significantly changes the settings and loads of the teeth in the bite. As a result, the daily functioning of the joints changes, and from this it is a very short way to the occurrence of disorders.

Treatment of Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) 

Treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders is difficult and does not always bring the intended effect. Thus, its goal is to at least reduce the severity of symptoms. The work done by the patient himself is very important during treatment. Eliminating harmful habits is the basis for successful treatment.

  • The patient should not chew any chewing gum at all,
  • He should avoid hard foods, especially those that require a wide mouth opening (eat pre-cut apples, avoid crispy baguettes, etc.).
  • While yawning, the patient should be careful not to open the mouth too wide.
  • In addition, various relaxation techniques are recommended to reduce stress in everyday life. In order to protect the teeth from abrasion and to reduce the tension in the masticatory muscles, the so-called relaxation plates are recommended, which the patient puts on between the upper and lower teeth at night.

In cases where the cause of disorders in the temporomandibular joints are the current malocclusion, the only effective treatment will be orthodontic treatment. The same is true for people with interdental gaps. It is necessary for them to perform prosthetic restorations in order to restore the proper functioning of the joints. Doctors often also perform a more complicated bite analysis to determine how exactly the jaw should be positioned in relation to the maxilla and what is the cause of the ailment. After such an examination, for full treatment, it may be necessary to perform muscle deprogramming – weaning the muscles from the previous bite situation in which they were too tense.

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