Causes of TMJ Disorder / Syndrome
TMJ & TMD
It is important to first explain that “syndrome” is simply a collection of the symptoms and “disorder” is the actual condition.
Research has shown that many factors may lead to this disorder – TMJ dysfunction (TMD).
TMD can occur by itself or be a part of a more complex problem. Statistics indicate that the vast majority of TMJ disorders are caused by trauma.
There 2 types of trauma; Macro-trauma that is sustained from a major injury to the joint or Micro-trauma that is the result of the low grade, repetitive injury.
What Causes TMJ?
Medical experts are unsure about precise TMJ causes. However, there are many factors that can contribute to it. Anything that damages or stresses the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints may make chronic TMJ pain more likely.
Specifically, most TMJ patients report one or more of these issues:
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth, which can occur at night without your notice;
- Chronic feelings of stress that cause you to tighten your facial muscles and jaw;
- Dislocation of the disc between the ball and the socket on either side of the jaw;
- Any form of arthritis or inflammation that occurs within either of the TMJ joints;
- Trauma to the head or neck – including, for example, after a car accident.
TMJ can arise suddenly or it can emerge after many years of one of these factors. In fact, it is very common for a sufferer to learn that he or she has a habit of grinding the teeth at night while asleep. This condition, called bruxism, is just one of many potentially associated with TMJ.
Aggravating factors of TMJ tend to worsen with age, though the condition can develop at any time.
We believe that there is usually more than one factor responsible for TMJ dysfunction. Some of the causes may be:
- Automobile Accident
- Sports Injury
- Clenching and Grinding of the teeth known as “Bruxism”
- Systemic diseases
- Neuromuscular imbalances.
- Inflammation of the joint.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis (degenerative)
Another common cause involves displacement or dislocation of the disk that is located between
the jawbone and the socket. The disk can also develop a hole or perforation, which can produce a grating sound with joint movement.
TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment.
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis.
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact.)
- The muscles that stabilize the joint become fatigued from overwork, which can happen if you habitually clench or grind your teeth.
Symptoms of TMJ
There are many different TMJ symptoms, and not all of them appear in every case. The most common symptom that causes people to seek treatment is a pain in one or both TMJ joints. Pain generally progresses to symptoms of stiffness and difficulty opening the mouth.
Potential cases of TMJ are characterized by these symptoms:
- Pain in the face, neck or shoulder that occurs or worsens when you speak or chew;
- Inability to open your mouth easily or fully, accompanied by pain when you try;
- A loud clicking, popping or grating noise in your jaw when using your mouth;
- Locking of your jaw – that is, loss of jaw movement with an open or closed mouth.
In more severe cases, pain can radiate into the teeth or neck and may be accompanied by swelling of the mouth. This may take place even if there is nothing wrong with teeth. Many people with TMJ go to a dentist without finding anything amiss.
Dizziness, earaches and even hearing loss can also occur. If any of these symptoms arise, it’s crucial to seek treatment right away. Complications may worsen if TMJ is not treated. Diagnosis through a complete examination and X-ray by Dr. Frith can positively identify the problem.
TMJ Diagnosis and TMJ Therapy
TMJ & TMD
At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centres, the critical path is to find the root cause of a patient’s individual pain or discomfort. A full evaluation of the patient is necessary – from a detailed health history to a comprehensive clinical examination including the evaluation of jaw movement, skeletal structure, and posture, airway, and dental health, as well as cranial and neurological examination and muscle palpations.
The two temporomandibular joints can differ not only in size and shape but also in function. It is possible to have a problem in one joint with the symptoms expressed in the other joint. Pain can migrate from one side to the other because of the complexity of this joint.
Nerves, tendons, ligaments, and muscles are all interconnected with the TMJ. When any one part malfunctions, this complex system can be compromised by working together in harmony. Therefore, a careful and thorough diagnosis is needed to determine the root cause.
Finding the right practitioner to identify the root cause of the pain can be difficult as the TMJ transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines including dentistry, neurology, pulmonology, otolaryngology or gastroenterology, chiropractic or physical therapy and psychology. Therefore, patients may find treatment approaches that vary from medication regimens for pain management to molding a night-guard (which can actually exacerbate inflammation).
At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centres the focus is a comprehensive evaluation for diagnosis and non-invasive treatment therapies. We are equipped with the latest technologies to further diagnose TMJ problems, direct non-surgical treatment and monitor treatment progress for maximum results.
TMD (TMJ disorder/dysfunction) although most commonly thought of as a disorder affecting only adults, can present in children at an early age. Simply noted as TMJ Children and Bruxism Children, the symptoms for the children may be milder or, unlike adult onset, it may simply be that these young children have always had symptoms of jaw pain and headaches or difficulty in normal functions of opening, chewing, swallowing, speaking and communications. As sad as it sounds, they know no difference and assume pain and/or difficulties with function are normal and what everyone experiences. Unfortunately, if undiagnosed and left untreated, the symptoms and condition increase with age. The good news with children is that they are still in the developmental stage and the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated the better the results!