People suffer from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder when the joint between their skull and the lower jaw is impaired or inflamed. This causes noticeable pain which usually becomes chronic, the severity of which depends on how far the condition that bought it on has gone. In most cases, TMJ disorder occurs as an effect of problems in other joints of the body such as arthritis and dislocations. It can also result from too much gum chewing, teeth grinding in sleep and even stress.
Since TMJ syndrome involves the nerves, muscles, teeth and bones, it follows that there is a mix of approaches to its treatment that utilize expertise in such fields as neurology, orthopedics, orthodontistry and dentistry, even EENT medicine. This is due to treatment addresses the various components of the temporomandibular joint, namely, the teeth, bones, connective tissues, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
The symptoms of TMJ disorder are just as many and varied. These include but not limited to:
* Ear pain
* Facial pain
* Chewing or biting difficulty
* Shoulder pain
* Neck pain
* Jaw pain
These symptoms range from the bearable to the unbearable, from just an occasional stab of pain to a chronic state. The seeming complexity of its causes may have rendered TMJ disorder incurable on a permanent basis, but there are known methods of alleviating its symptoms. Here's a few of these methods:
* Avoid hard-to-bite foods.
* Do not use your jaw too much.
* Maintain good posture to less pressure on the jaw.
* Reduce tension in the jaw area by doing shoulder and neck exercises.
* Avoid activities that cause stiff neck.
* Take stress management lessons if you think your TMJ disorder is psychosomatic in origin.
* Take inflammatory drugs.
* Take muscle relaxants or pain relievers.
* Get a dentist's prescription for an intra-orthotic drug, which helps in repositioning the jaw.
* Wear a mouth guard if your TMJ problem can be traced to grinding your teeth at night.
If none of these treatments work, a jaw surgery may be your last recourse. Performed by oral-facial surgeons, jaw surgery is meant to treat abnormal bites that can not be corrected by braces. In fact, the conditions that require such a corrective jaw surgery also apply to TMJ disorder. These include difficulty chewing or biting food, chronic jaw pain and difficulty swallowing.
As already noted, surgery should be reserved for the most severe cases of TMJ symptoms. You should try exercise and over-the-counter drugs as your first line of treatment before consulting a professional for possible oral or jaw surgery.