Temporal Mandibular Joint Syndrome is a condition in which the temporal mandibular joint is not functioning as it should. This is a condition that affects thousands of Canadians and this is pain that affects most everything you do with your mouth.
The temporal bone (the bone that forms the sides of the skull) meets the mandible (jaw bone) and where they meet is at the temporal mandibular joint. This joint is used more frequently than most other joints in the body. The temporal mandibular joint works every time we chew, bite down on something, swallow, or talk. When TMJ syndrome strikes, it has a huge impact on a lot of what you do. Other muscles such as those in the upper back, neck and shoulder can have an effect on this joint's functioning.
On each side of the head there is a temporal mandibular joint and they are located right in front of the ear.
Those with TMJ often cannot determine the specific cause but there are some possible causes such as:
- Teeth grinding
- A bad bite
- Bad posture
- Chewing too much gum or nail biting
Symptoms Of TMJ Syndrome
Perhaps one of the most common symptom experienced by those with TMJ syndrome are headaches or facial pain that increases when they attempt to speak or eat. Sometimes pain is felt behind the eyes.
The ears may have a sense of feeling clogged or they can have tinnitus (ringing sound). Also, the patient may experience dizziness or the sensation that the facial muscles are tired.
When opening or closing the mouth there can be a clicking sound or popping sound and when chewing or biting, there is discomfort or difficulty to move the jaw. There can also be tenderness in the jaw area or pain.
TMJ Can Cause Physical Damage
TMJ syndrome can cause damage to the jaw, the teeth, and it can alter the alignment of the bones as well or cause damage to the nearby muscles. In fact, misaligned teeth, a change in chewing patterns(braces, dentures or other dental work), damage to the teeth or jaw can trigger TMJ.
Treatment For TMJ Syndrome
Getting a diagnosis sooner than later is important in order to minimize or eliminate the chances for long- term damage. Temporal mandibular joint syndrome can often be treated with gentle therapies. Learning how to gently stretch, relax or massage the muscles around your jaw correctly may be an option that works. Qualified medical professionals help patients with this and provide massage therapy at a Chiro-Med Rehab Centre. Under proper medical care, patients can learn other techniques such as using heat and cold methods in order to help alleviate or eliminate the symptoms. In addition, learning various ways to reduce stress levels can be explored, as well as exercising several times every week.
Pinpointing a cause can help you better maximize treatment. If a specific cause can be determined then chances are TMJ syndrome can be eliminated. For example, if grinding the teeth at night as you sleep is the cause, mouth guards can help alleviate the pressure. (Although this is not recommended as a permanent solution.) Over-the-counter mouth guards are available, but having one that fits your mouth properly is important and most dentists' custom-make mouth guards.
If you think you may have TMJ syndrome, you may want to try this out in addition to seeking the services of a health professional. Set your cell phone to alert you a few times throughout the day. When you get that alert (or alarm) immediately take note of how you are holding your neck, shoulders and teeth. Are your shoulders up at your ears? Are your teeth clenched? Are you hunched over? If you answer yes to any of these, try to make a subconscious choice to be more aware of how your body is positioned.