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Signs and Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a term used for theinflammatory conditions of the temporomandibular joint which is in charge ofconnecting the mandible and the skull. These inflammatory conditions may beacute or chronic. This type of medical condition is commonly associated withdysfunction which is usually accompanied by significant amounts of impairmentand pain. Fortunately enough, there are numerous different types of treatmentapproaches available for all those who suffer from temporomandibular jointdisorder, mainly due to the fact that both neurology and dentistry are involvedin dealing with it. Another problem with the temporomandibular joint is that itmay be associated with a vast array of other medical conditions which otherwisetend to affect all the joints in the human body, and those may includeneoplasia, various developmental anomalies, dislocations, trauma, arthritis andankylosis, among others. The list of different signs and symptoms which may beassociated with the temporomandibular joint disorder is quite extensive and inmost cases they tend to affect various components of the temporomandibularjoint, such as the teeth, the connective tissue, the bones, the ligaments, thetendons, the nerves and the muscles. The swelling of the proximal tissue iscommonly associated with the painful sensations of the ears and it can also beconsidered as a symptom of the temporomandibular joint disorder. Other commontypes of symptoms which may be associated with the temporomandibular jointdisorders include dizziness, painful sensations in the shoulder, painful sensationsin the neck, tinnitus, reduced ability to close or open the mouth, tendernessof the jaw, painful sensations in the jaw, migraine, hearing loss, headaches,earaches, aching and dull pain in the face, grating, popping or clicking soundwhen closing or opening the mouth and chewing or biting difficulties anddiscomfort.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

There are numerous different types of factors which may beassociated with temporomandibular joint disorders. Temporomandibular jointactually consists of two joints so that it can translate and rotate. Thecartilage and the bones tend to wear with time and the popping, the deviationsand the clicking are rather common. But when pain starts kicking in, itsignifies the temporomandibular joint disorder. Dysfunction of thetemporomandibular joint may be associated with different types of disorders ofthe teeth. The most common causes of temporomandibular joint disorder includelack of overbite, myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome, pathologic lesions,developmental abnormality, recurrent bony ankylosis, recurrent fibrousankylosis, organic degeneration of the articular surfaces, osteoarthritis,degenerative joint diseases, size of food bites eaten, excessive nail biting,excessive gum chewing, jaw thrusting which is associated with unusual chewinghabits and speech, malalignment of the occlusal surfaces of the teeth due todefective crowns or other restorative procedures, trauma and bruxism. For thosewho do not know, bruxism is repetitive unconscious clenching or grinding ofteeth which in most cases occurs during the night time sleep.

Treatment Options

Among the most common treatment options for those who sufferfrom temporomandibular joint disorders is the restoration of proper occlusion.This is performed in cases when the occlusal surfaces of the teeth or othersupporting structures get altered due to trauma, periodontal disease orinappropriate dental treatment. Painful sensations which commonly accompanytemporomandibular joint disorders may be relieved simply by using ordinaryanalgesics or NSAIDs. In cases where the painful sensations have a neurologicnature, these types of medications cannot be of much help. There are otherapproaches for the relief of painful sensations triggered by temporomandibularjoint disorder, and one of the most common ones includes pain modificationinduced by tricyclic antidepressant. These medicaments are known for havingvery potent anti muscarinic properties. Another common type of treatment forthose who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders is nighttime EMGbiofeedback. It is very efficient in reducing bruxism and eliminating thenightly cycle of damage which is one of the most significant contributingfactors in the development of the temporomandibular joint disorders. It isimportant to stress out that this type of treatment method is not considered asan invasive one. There are also different types of mouth guards which are alsoreferred to as night guards and occlussal splints available for the treatmentof temporomandibular joint disorders. These are very efficient in preventingthe loss of tooth enamel, but in some cases they may even worsen the existingcondition. There are other options available which include replacement of thejaw joints or discs with temporomandibular joint implants, surgicalrepositioning of the jaws in order to correct congenital jaw malformations, jointirrigation, orthodontics, reconstructive dentistry, mandibular repositioning splintsand repositioning of the muscles and the ligaments of the jaw. Another optionis the manual adjustment of the bite by grinding the teeth. This is anirreversible type of treatment method and needs to be avoided as much aspossible. Other possible options include elimination of para-functional habits,stabilization splints, Feldenkrais Program, mandibular repositioning, jawdislocation and surgical interventions.

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