Temporomandibular Joint Problems (TMJ)

Temporomandibular Joint Problems (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as the jaw joint is known in medical language, exists one on each side of the face in front of the ear. This joint comes into function each time the jaw moves ie. During speech, swallowing, yawning, eating etc. Considering the fact that an individual swallows some 600 times while awake you can imagine the amount of wear & tear this joint goes through.
The TMJ comprises a fibrous disc in between two bony surfaces moving against each other. The disc protects the bony parts from wear & tear, & thus often takes the brunt of it all.

These problems can be broadly divided into two categories :
  • 1. Localized conditions involving the Disc, Ligament or Bony parts
  • 2. Underlying systemic causes reflecting in TMJ malfunction

The former make up the majority of cases seen by an Oral Surgeon.

The most common complaints experienced by a patient of Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) would be :
  • •Pain on mouth opening
  • •Clicking sounds on opening the mouth / on chewing
  • •Pain in / around the ears
  • •Pain along the side of neck
  • •Pain in the upper jaw radiating to the forehead and eyebrows
  • •Inability to open the mouth or a transient lock-jaw after wide opening
What exactly does this term mean?

It is a kind of myogenous pain characterized by local areas of hypersensitive bands of muscle tissue known as Trigger Points.
These Trigger Points cause central excitatory effects manifested as referred pain. For the treatment to be effective it should be directed towards the source of pain not the site.
Central excitation may also produce autonomous effects such as drying or tearing of the eye and nasal discharge .Treatment is aimed at eliminating the cause of local muscle soreness and also reducing the local and systemic factors. Eliminating the Trigger Ponts may be done by painless stretching of the muscle. For treatment to be effective and long lasting there has to be full cooperation from the patient's side.