TMJ Dysfunction (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
TMJ is the abbreviation used for the jaw joint and is short for ‘temporomandibular joint.
It can be felt by placing your fingers just in front of your ears and opening and closing your mouth. A TMJ disorder may affect one or both joints, often causing pain and limited jaw function. Symptoms usually arise in early adulthood, but children and the elderly can also be affected. Most symptoms of TMJ disorders or pain are mild and do not need treatment, if so they are best treated conservatively and cautiously. As with pain in other joints of the body, symptoms often go away with time.
We have a whole site dedicated to TMJ called the tmjreliefclinic.com.au. Visit the site to find out more and make an appointment for a comprehensive examination.
Causes of TMJ Dysfunction
- Missing teeth
- Grinding or clenching of teeth, which may be linked to stress
- Emotional or physical stress, and tension in the jaw muscles
- Injuries such as fractures or dislocations of the TMJ
- Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Wrongly shaped dental fillings, crowns and bridges.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
- Limited jaw movement
- Difficulty in opening the mouth
- A stuck or locked jaw
- Clicking, grating or popping noises from the jaw joints
- Pain when chewing, yawning or opening the jaw widely
- Pain in or around the ears and cheeks
- Headaches and occassionally migrain-like headaches and nausea
- Earaches, loss of hearing or ringing in the ears
- Face, neck, back and shoulder pain
- A feeling of muscle spasms
- Clenching and grinding or teeth
- An uncomfortable bite.
TMJ Dysfunction Diagnosis
Accurate diagnosis is very important to ensure that the right treatment is undertaken.
To assist with TMJ diagnosis we may recommend:
- Plaster models of your teeth to see if your occlusion (bite) is correctly balanced.
- An x-ray examination
- Completion of a questionnaire and a pain diagram to asses how your symptoms affect your quality of life.
Treatment for TMJ Dysfunction Can Include:
- Occlusal appliance therapy e.g. a custom made splint or bite plate worn at night.
- Modified diet i.e. only eating soft foods until symptoms resolve.
- Avoid extreme jaw movements (yawning, chewing or talking too much).
- Physiotherapy with exercises, massage, and stretching.
- Warm packs for relaxation or cold packs to relieve tenderness.
- Relaxation and stress management to reduce jaw tension.
- Behaviour modification therapy such as counseling to identify sources of stress.
- Medications such as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, sedative or muscle relaxant to be taken only as directed.
- Specialist management if pain is chronic and severe and other treatment has not been effective.
- Surgery is very rare. We will refer to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon if needed.
Laser Therapy at the TMJ Relief Clinic
Our TMJ Relief Clinic is located close to Melbourne’s CBD and inner Melbourne suburbs. As part of our specialist TMJ treatment, we offer low level laser therapy (LLLT) to help ease the discomfort and pain that TMD suffers experience. We use the latest in technology, employing the MLS (Multi Locked System) Laser Therapy.
LLLT assists the following:
- Decreases muscle and tendon inflammation at a cellular level
- Decreases muscle pain and tension
- Improves blood flow and faster recovery times