What is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome?
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD, occurs in the joints attaching the lower jaw to the skull. This joint has multiple functions, allowing the lower jaw to move forward and backward, up and down, and even slightly side to side. These movements are needed to chew, speak, and laugh. Though experts are unsure exactly why this disorder occurs, there are several known causes.
Common causes include:
• Injury to the jaw, head, or neck
• Movement of the soft cushion or disk between the joint and the joint socket
• Clenching or grinding the teeth
The disorder is typically marked by signs and symptoms such as:
• Pain in the jaw, head, or neck
• Pain in the ear
• Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear
• Lock jaw
• A clicking or popping sensation in the side of the jaw
• Difficulty chewing and biting
• A change in bite, or the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
Despite the fact that the cause of TMJ is unknown, experts can employ several treatments to rid patients of the issue. More conservative treatments include eliminating sources of stress, stretching, and applying ice packs. Your TMJ doctor may recommend a mouthguard or splints, physical therapy, acupuncture, or certain medications. Severe cases may require surgery.
TMJ treatments typically have a high success rate, and are typically solved within a few months. The disorder is most commonly seen in adult women over the age of nineteen. For this reason, experts and researchers are looking into a correlation between the disorder and female hormones.
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