Experiencing chronic headaches or facial pain? You may have TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ functions as a connector for the skull and the lower jawbone. This joint enables us to open and close our mouth, move our jaw from one side to another, which is important for us to be able to eat and speak. If you have been encountering problems, such as headaches, facial pain, or even difficulty with the mobility of your jaws, you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). It is imperative that you consult with an expert, like Dr Seah at TesClinic.

 

TMJ Disorder: What is it?

Otherwise known as TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that affects the function of the temporomandibularjoint (TMJ). This happens when the jaw joints becomes irritated or swollen, resulting to pain that can be occasional or last a long time.

Disorders affecting the jaw joint are more common in women than in men and are usually diagnosed among adults that are within the age range of twenty and forty. The exact cause of TMD is still unknown, but it is believed to develop in the jaw’s joint or muscles. Other causal factors of this condition can be:

Arthritis affecting the joint’s cartilage
Erosion or misalignment of the disk
Extreme pressure on the joint, especially when one consistently clenches or grinds the teeth
Improper bite
Jaw injury
Stress

 

What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

Here are the symptoms that you should look out for if you suspect that you may have a TMJ disorder:

Challenges when yawning or opening your mouth wide
Chewing difficulty
Chronic headaches
Inflammation on either or both sides of your face
Locking of jaws
Pain in the face, ears, neck, shoulders, and teeth
Tinnitus

Consult with a doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing more than one symptom of TMJ disorder. Leaving this condition untreated can lead to other problems affecting your health and quality of life.

What happens during a doctor’s consultation?

During your initial consultation, your doctor will assess the function of your jaws. To do this, your doctor will check the areas of your face where pain is felt. Your doctor will also observe the extent of movement that your jaw can do. Your doctor may also recommend tests, such as CT scans, MRI, or dental x-rays to have further information about the condition and positioning of your jaw and jaw joints.

 

What are the available treatments for TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorders can be treated with non-surgical and surgical methods.

Non-surgical treatments are usually recommended for mild TMJ disorders. These are some examples:

Avoid intense jaw motions – refrain from doing activities that require you to open your mouth wide. When yawning, remember not to open your mouth extremely.
Avoid putting pressure on your chin – Immediately relax your jaw and face whenever you feel yourself clenching too hard and skip resting your chin on your hand.
Avoid eating hard foods and chewing gum – stick to foods that are soft. When eating, cut portions of your food into smaller sizes, so you can easily put them in your mouth without having to open it wide. Smaller portions will also help ease tension in your jaws as you chew less.
Get dental treatments – visit your dentist and ask for the best treatment to improve your bite’s alignment. Your dentist may recommend wearing braces or dental bridges for this.
Use heat or cold packs – ice packs are best to lessen the pain in your face. Apply this for 10 minutes and follow with a warm moist washcloth for 5 minutes.
Take medications – to ease the swelling of your jaws, take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can be bought over-the-counter. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications like anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs and muscle relaxants.

If the treatments above do little to improve your condition, then your doctor may suggest a more advanced procedure, such as:

Botox – this procedure uses Botulinum Toxin, which is injected to the treatment area to lessen the swelling of the muscles.
Radio wave therapy – this procedure uses radio waves that help in improving and increasing the blood flow in the TMJ area, relieving it from pain.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – this procedure uses electrical currents in low degrees which allow the muscles in the face and jaws to relax and be free from aches and pains.
Trigger-point injections – this procedure uses anaesthesia or a medication for pain relief which is injected into the muscles of the face.
Ultrasound – this procedure uses a powerful ultrasound machine which releases heat deep into the muscles to minimize swelling or improve joint mobility.

For severe TMJ disorders, your doctor may recommend undergoing surgery. TMJ surgery can be done in 3 ways:

Arthrocentesis – this surgical method uses sterile fluids that are injected into the joint. When needed, the surgery will also require the repositioning of a misaligned disc or the removal of scar tissue.
Arthroscopy – this surgical method uses a n instrument that is equipped with a lens and light. The instrument is inserted through a tiny opening created near the ear. The surgery will any swollen tissue or reposition a misaligned disc.
Open-joint surgery – this surgical method is done for TMJthat has tumours, scarring, or exhibiting bone structures that are damaged.

 

Is TMJ disorder temporary?

The duration of TMJ disorder will depend on its cause and whether or not it gets treated effectively. When symptoms of TMJ disorder is due to factors that affect the composition and alignment of teeth and jaw, then the condition may not heal on its own and in a short span of time when proper treatments are not done to address the problem. If the symptoms are caused by stress, then relief from the disorder may be cleared as soon as the stressors are no longer present.

TMJ disorder is a treatable condition. Relief from chronic pain caused by this dysfunction is best treated during its onset to prevent the further deterioration of the temporomandibular joint.

 

TES Clinic – Dr Seah TE

 

304 Orchard Road, Lucky Plaza Suites

#05-42, Medical Specialists

Singapore 238863

 

https://tesclinic.com

 

+65 6737 0552

+65 9735 9930

 

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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