Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is TMJ and How to Beat It

What is TMJ? TMJ is Temporo- Mandibular Joint, which facilitates the opening and closing of the jaw. Many people do not know what TMJ is, and that is a commonly asked question both in the medical world and the social world. The Temporo- Mandibular joint is located where the lower jaw meets the skull, and it is in front of the ear. TMJ is what enhances the movement and the functioning of the mandible (the lower jaw) to function and move. The TMJ is comprised of blood vessels, muscles bones and nerves, and they are two, on each side of the lower jaw. TMJ controls the movement of the jaw in two ways; hinge action rotation which open and close the mouth, and gliding action, which give room for the mouth to open wider.TMJ allows a person to talk, yawn and chew.

Force is put on the object which is in between the joint and the teeth when a person bites down hard. In this case, the jaw is seen as the lever, while the TMJ is seen as the fulcrum. The question what is TMJ is normally asked by the patients when they see a doctor about mouth pain. The mouth pain can be as a result of Temporo- Mandibular joint disorder. According to research done by the American association of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, the TMJ disorders are not rare, and they are accompanied by various symptoms. The symptoms are; headaches, persistent ear pain, cheek or temple pain, jaw clicking and popping, difficulties in opening the mouths fully, locking of the jaw, and neck aches are common. These symptoms when noticed, a person should seek medical attention as one could be having problems with the TMJ.

Research has shown that when the cartilage that causes the stretching of sensory nerves is displaced, pain in the TMJ results. When the cartilage disc falls into place, popping or clicking happens, and spasm of the chewing muscles may occur and cause tenderness and pain. According to the American association of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, discovering the cause of TMJ disorder or pain is the first step in treating it. The question what is TMJ should be answered first before explaining to the patients what TMJ disorders or pain are, and what causes TMJ pain and disorder. Explaining what TMJ is, is the only way a specialist can explain to a patient that the pain in the ear is not caused by ear inflammations, but it is resulting from the mouth.

Temporo- Mandibular joint, what is TMJ? TMJ is the part which necessitates most movements and functions of the jaws. However, it is not without threats, faults and risks, and these are what cause TMJ disorders and pain. There are factors which contribute to mouth or TMJ pains, and they include; stress which lead to clenching and some psychological factors, excessive chewing of gums, grinding of the teeth also known as Bruxism, minor and major jaw traumas, and both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis inflammation of joints is very common in children, and it can erode bones, destroy the cartilage, and deform the TMJ in children.

Research shows that more women than men are likely to have Temporo- Mandibular joint pain, and that most of the symptoms recede after two weeks when the jaw joint recovers and rests as a result of inability to chew. What is TMJ? This is a question asked by many patients to the doctor when the pain in different places like the head, neck or ears is associated with TMJ. Another question that patients should ask the doctors is how can one treat TMJ disorder or pain? There are various options that can be used to relieve TMJ pains when at home. Ibuprofen, aspirin and Acetaminophen are anti- inflammatory medications for pain and they help ease the pain.

When faced with TMJ pains, a person is advised to eat a diet containing soft foods in order to avoid accelerating the disorder and pain. A gentle massage on the pain area as well as applying warm compresses is incredibly beneficial. Avoiding gum chewing and reducing stress are effective ways of reducing the TMJ disorders as well as the pain. A medical doctor can also fit a person with a bite plate or splint to reduce teeth clenching and grinding, and it also eases the muscle tension. TMJ cases of pain are mainly temporary, hence the home based pain relieve methods are opted, but if the pain or disorder persists, medical attention should be sought.


If you enjoyed reading this article, we offer a number of different resources on our Sore Jaw Relief website.  You can find additional information such as this What is TMJ article.

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