TMJ Pain and Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
At Future Dental, we have decades of experience in relieving the chronic pain that comes with TMJ disorders.
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. Temporomandibular joint disorders encompass a range of conditions involving the jaw joints, the muscles of the jaw, or both. These joints are located in front of your ears and can lead to pain in the jaw.
What causes TMJ pain and TMD?
TMJ pain is often caused by inflammation of the joint (capsulitis) or by internal derangement where the fibro-cartilage disc (meniscus) becomes pulled forward in the joint by the pterygoid masticatory muscles.
Normal healthy TMJ position with labels of each part.
The disc is protective and prevents the cartilage and bony head (condyle) of the jaw from rubbing against the cartilage and bone of the glenoid fossa in the temporal bone of the base of the skull.
The lateral pterygoid muscle pulls the jaw open, forward and from side to side and, if overactive, can displace the disc forward in the joint capsule. The superior retrodiscal ligament is part of the stabilisation of the disc, but, being a ligament, can be stretched by hyper-activity of the pterygoid muscles, but cannot return to its original length. This leaves the disc vulnerable to being pulled out of its position.
The disc, in its normal healthy position with the mouth closed or nearly closed, sees the biconcave part of the middle of the disc sitting immediately between the condyles and the anterior slope of the bony front wall of the fossa in the base of the skull.
Closed position showing some arthritic changes and disc displacement without reduction.
An open mouth with a normal appearance.
An open mouth with disc displacement with reduction.
A displaced disc can be pulled forward, inwards and less commonly outwards. Once pulled forward, on opening, the condyle passes over the thickened posterior band of the disc, creating the audible click that can be felt. A click on its own is not only very common but also requires no treatment. The disc can also break down, perforate, or distort.
A TMJ can become dislocated, and this renders it very difficult for the patient to open and close the mouth. This is easily and rapidly treated in the dental office, but those who are susceptible to this, need to support their jaw with the palm of the hand when yawning and avoid opening very wide to bite on hard chewy foods.
Arthritis can affect the TMJ as well. Inflammation of the joint is termed Capsulitis and is mildly painful to touch and may feel hot to touch and may become moderately painful on the movement of the jaw.
How TMD is treated
The course of treatment which you undergo for your TMD will be dependent on your symptoms and their severity, as well as your age and general health.
Treatment may include resting and relaxation, ice or heat packs, behavioural changes to reduce bruxism, physical therapy, orthopaedic appliances such as occlusal splints, posture training, diet changes, and in extreme cases, surgery.
TMD treatment in Cairns
Future Dental have years of experience in treating temporomandibular disorders and are able to provide you with long term treatment solutions.