What is Temporomandibular Dysfunction?
Temporomandibular Dysfunction is a disorder that affects the temporomandibular joint (also known as TMJ). The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible (jaw) to the skull. This join sits right next to the ear. Temporomandibular Dysfunction causes pain in the jaw, side of the face, or down into the neck. This dysfunction can also cause stiffness in the muscles that surround the neck and jaw, as well as popping of the TMJ. Extreme cases of Temporomandibular Dysfunction may also cause malocclusion of the teeth.
Often times this dysfunction will go away on it’s own with little to no help. More severe cases of Temporomandibular Dysfunction will cause pain with eating and speaking, and may last for weeks. Professional services can help decrease chronic or acute Temporomandibular Dysfunction problems.
How is Temporomandibular Dysfunction Diagnosed?
While there is no one direct cause of Temporomandibular Dysfunction, this dysfunction can be easily diagnosed by a medical professional. Individuals that are experiencing constant pain, tenderness, locking or clicking of the jaw, and difficulty speaking should keep the help of a professional.
Typically a medical professional will start with a complete exam of the affected area. The jaw’s range of motion will be assessed, any clicking or popping will be noted, and all areas of discomfort will be noted. Further testing (x-rays, CT Scans, or a MRI) may be ordered if the medical professional suspects an underlying joint problem. The scans will give medical professionals a picture of the soft tissue that surrounds the temporomandibular joint.
What are the Treatment Options of Temporomandibular Dysfunction?
Temporomandibular Dysfunction is often a disorder that will go away on it’s own. Many individuals that suffer from Temporomandibular Dysfunction can use ice packs and pain relieving medication for a short period of time. If conservative, at home treatments fail, other TMJ pain relief treatment options will be ordered.
For individuals that choose a to go a non-pharmaceutical route for treatment, bite guards can be a great option. Rehabilitative therapy has also been proven quite effective at decreasing pain. Rehabilitative therapy also helps strengthen surrounding muscles which helps decrease the likelihood of Temporomandibular Dysfunction coming back.