Jaw Problems

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: Jaw Problems & Jaw Alignment

Being able to talk, chew and yawn is the function of the temporomandibular joints, without which you wouldn’t be able to move your jaw. If you notice you have problems with your jaw that affects your mouth and face movement, you are probably suffering from temporomandibular joint disorders. While the right acronym is TMD, you’ll hear it being wrongly referred to as TMJ. Even dentists cannot pinpoint the actual cause of the disorder. Often, dentists may point to the muscles of the jaw as the culprit for the disorder.

However, few things are known; injury to the face like a heavy blow or whiplash may lead to TMD. This will affect your facial muscles, joints, and jaw. In a situation where you grind or pressurize your jaws, arthritis to the joint, movement of the disc in between the ball and socket of the joint, and stress. All these may lead to temporomandibular joint disorders. Pain caused by TMD may be continuous, permanent or temporary, it all depends on the severity and treatment. TMJ’s occurrence is more prevalent between the ages of 20 and 40 and can be one or both sides of the jaw.

The following are common symptoms of TMJ:

  • Difficulty in opening the mouth wide
  • Sticking or locking of the jaw when the mouth is opened or closed
  • Trouble with biting and chewing as there is a feeling of the non-fixing if the upper and lower jaw
  • Popping, and clicking when the mouth is opened. There may be little or no pain from this symptom
  • Pain and tenderness which affect talking, chewing or other mouth movement.
  • A swell on the affected side of the face.
  • It can also bring about pain to the teeth, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Diagnosis and Other Causes of TMJ

A visit to the dentist may also reveal the causative element of TMJ. This condition may not have been caused by the already identified issues but tooth decay, arthritis, gum problems, and other gum diseases. The dentist will need to carry out a physical examination of your dentition and mouth in order to trace the root cause of the condition. Expect the dentist to do the following:

  • Physical examination of the entire mouth
  • Checking of joints for pain and tenderness
  • Listening to the jaw to ascertain if they make a clicking, popping or grating sound
  • Ensuring your jaw functions normally
  • There may be a need for further X-ray or MRI tests to see the image of your joint, and teeth.

After these steps, if there is no solution in sight, you will be referred to an oral surgeon who will carry out another thorough examination depending on the pain you are going through. You can also take some precautions at home by doing the following;

  • Eating of soft foods that will not require frequent jaw movement
  • Application of ice packs to the painful side of the face.
  • Massage to the joint depending on the advice of the dentist.