TMJ: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The temporomandibular joint is one of our body's most complex joints and may develop one of three types of TMJ disorders (TMD) if misalignment occurs. Here, our dentists in Burnaby explain the disorders, along with symptoms and treatment options.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (which are located just below your temple, in front of your year). You use this hinge every day, to do move your jaw, talk and eat — even breathe. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can occur when issues with your facial muscles or jaw develop. You may start to experience pain in the area and if the disorder progresses to a severe state, you may eventually be unable to move the joint.

Types of TMJ Disorder

There are three main types of TMJ disorders:

Joint Degenerative Disorders

Most commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, this degenerative disorder occurs when cartilage holding the round ends of your jaw's two bones together wears away or breaks. 

Shocks during movement are absorbed by the cartilage, allowing your bones to easily glide over each other. But as cartilage erodes, swelling and pain become issues, and you may not be able to move your jaw.

Muscle Disorders

Also known as myofascial pain, muscle disorders can bring pain and discomfort in all the muscles that control the function of your jaw. You may also experience pain in your shoulders, neck and jaw muscles. 

Joint Derangement Disorders

A soft, small disc located between the condyle and temporal bone makes opening and closing your jaw smooth and easy. This disc is also essential to absorbing shocks to the jaw joint that occur during movement. 

When someone has a joint derangement disorder, the jaw's inner workings are unbalanced or disrupted due to a damaged bone or dislocated disc. 

The displaced disc causes internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint. Currently, no surgical solution to this problem exists.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

With every type of TMJ Disorder, you’ll likely experience pain in your jaw and face. The area around your ears may hurt, and you’ll feel an ache when you open your mouth to eat or talk.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Facial bruising or swelling
  • Problems opening, closing or clenching your jaw
  • Headaches, dizziness or pain in your temples
  • Grinding, clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
  • Additional pain in your neck and/or shoulders

When You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Treatment

If at-home remedies such as avoiding stress, chewing gum, gently massaging your neck and jaw muscles, trying over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have not proven effective, you should make a dental appointment.

Your dentist will review your dental history, perform a thorough examination of your bite and jaw, and take x-rays to assess before providing an official diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. The treatment he or she recommends may include

  • Prescription medications
  • Physical Therapy
  • Oral Surgery
  • Dental splints
  • TMJ therapy

Your dentist may be able to help you manage your TMJ Disorder with a combination of home remedies and attentive dental care.

Have you been experiencing persistent dizziness, jaw pain or headaches? We may be able to create a custom treatment plan to help. Schedule an appointment with our Burnaby dentists today.

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Oakmount Dental
5266 Oakmount Crescent Burnaby BC V5H 4S1 CA

Phone Number

(604) 438-8238

Hours of Operation

  • Monday:12:00 pm - 08:00 pm
  • Tuesday:08:00 am - 05:00 pm
  • Wednesday:12:00 pm - 08:00 pm
  • Thursday:08:00 am - 05:00 pm
  • Friday:08:00 am - 04:00 pm
  • Saturday:Closed
  • Sunday:Closed

(604) 438-8238