TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which next to the skull’s cranial structures is the most complicated of the body’s joint systems. It is the joint on either side of the skull, working in unison to hold the lower jaw or the mandible and the upper temporal bone in cranium of the skull together. The joint’s most notable feature is the articular disc, which is composed of firm, flexible, and elastic fibrocartilagenous tissue, which divides the joint into and allows rotational and translational movement.  Improper alignment of the muscles and the joints involved in the system, may cause stress and imbalance, often resulting to TMJ syndrome or disorder. TMJ syndrome is a broad term that mainly refers to the inflammation of the temporomandibular joint and/or acute to chronic pain in what is known as the muscles of mastication.

What causes TMJ Syndrome? 

Some of the primary causes of TMJ syndrome include muscular hyperfunction or parafunction, (tooth grinding or bruxism) and displacement of the articular disc of the joint. These conditions result in significant pain in the area, combined with an impairment of the joint’s function, such as clicking or popping sounds in the joint. The disorder can involve both neurology and dentistry, which is why there are several treatment approaches available to address the issue. 

What are common symptoms of TMJ Syndrome? 

The symptoms associated with TMJ syndrome include difficulty or discomfort in chewing and biting, a dull pain in the face, clicking, grating or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth, earaches, migraines and headaches in the morning, hearing loss, tinnitus, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, and difficulty in opening or closing the mouth. 

What are treatment options for TMJ Syndrome? 

Treatment of temporomandibular joint syndrome can encompass a variety of approaches. This includes restorations of the teeth’s occlusal surfaces or supporting structures, which can eliminate interferences or inappropriate posterior tooth contact. Using occlusal splints or mouth guards to reduce night time clenching is also a common practice. Some treatments are multidisciplinary integrating dental corrections such as subtle bite adjustments and splint therapy along with muscular release and chiropractic adjustments.


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