Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called “TMJ,” are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement.
Researchers generally agree that the conditions fall into three main categories:
A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time.
Some estimates suggest that TMJ disorders affect over 10 million Americans. These conditions appear to be more common in women than men.
Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some TMJ disorders, but in most cases, the exact cause of the condition is not clear. For many people, symptoms seem to start without obvious reason.
Because TMJ is more common in women than in men, scientists are exploring a possible link between female hormones and TMJ disorders.
A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. The most common symptom is pain in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint. Other symptoms include:
There is no widely accepted, standard test now available to correctly diagnose TMJ disorders. Because the exact causes and symptoms are not clear, identifying these disorders can be difficult and confusing.
Your doctor will note your symptoms, take a detailed medical history, and examine problem areas, including the head, neck, face, and jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty with movement. The doctor might also suggest imaging studies such as an x-ray.
You may want to ask your doctor about other causes of pain. Facial pain can be a symptom of many conditions, such as sinus or ear infections, various types of headaches, and facial neuralgias (nerve-related facial pain). Ruling out these problems first helps in identifying TMJ disorders.
Because more studies are needed on the safety and effectiveness of most treatments for jaw joint and muscle disorders, experts strongly recommend using the most conservative, reversible treatments possible. Conservative treatments do not invade the tissues of the face, jaw, or joint, or involve surgery. Reversible treatments do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. Even when TMJ disorders have become persistent, most patients still do not need aggressive types of treatment.
Because the most common jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple treatment may be all that is necessary to relieve discomfort. Short term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen; the use of a stabilization splint, or bite guard, that fits over upper or lower teeth may provide relief. If a stabilization splint is recommended, it should be used only for a short time and should not cause permanent changes in bite. Studies of their effectiveness in providing pain relief have been inconclusive.
Surgical treatments are controversial, often irreversible, and should be avoided where possible. There have been no long-term clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of surgical treatments for TMJ disorders. Additionally, surgical replacement of jaw joints with artificial implants may cause severe pain and permanent jaw damage. Some of these devices may fail to function properly or may break apart in the jaw over time.
Self-care practices that may help ease symptoms of TMJ:
TMJ disorders affect the jaw joint and muscles that control the jaw. They can be challenging to diagnose and treat because of how complex this joint is.
Around 12 percent of people in the United States experience TMJ disorders at any one time. Women are affected more often than men, with 9 women to every 1 man experiencing severe pain and restricted jaw movement.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for TMJ disorders is essential for patients and doctors alike.
The temporomandibular joint is located at the base of the skull.
Commonly referred to as the TMJ, it allows for the movement required for chewing and talking.
The joint connects the mandible, which is the lower jaw, and the temporal bone, which is on the side of the skull.
Since the TMJ allows for movement both up and down as well as from side to side, it is one of the most complex joints in the body. This can make severe TMJ disorders difficult to treat effectively.
TMJ disorders are conditions that affect the TMJ specifically. There is a range of possible symptoms, which can cause varying amounts of discomfort.
TMJ disorders are a broad category, and the term includes many possible causes. As such, there are a variety of treatment options available.
Doctors may diagnose TMJ disorders based on a range of symptoms, including persistent pain around the jaw and restricted jaw movement.
Most cases of TMJ disorders will resolve themselves within a short period, usually within a couple of months. Some cases, however, may be ongoing or reoccur.
There are many possible causes of TMJ disorders. Some known causes include:
Other causes may be genetic, hormonal, or environmental. For instance, violinists have been noted to experience TMJ disorders at a higher rate than the general population, since their work involves holding an instrument under the jaw. This can cause strain, which leads to TMJ disorders.
It has been observed that women experience TMJ disorders at a higher rate than men, so researchers are currently looking into hormonal causes for TMJ.
While the cause is not precisely understood, researchers hope that investigating the link between the female hormone estrogen and TMJ disorders will prove useful.
There is a range of symptoms linked to TMJ, including:
One of the most obvious symptoms of a TMJ disorder is pain that is felt when moving the jaw. However, other symptoms that may occur with a TMJ disorder include headaches or migraines, neck ache or backache, and earaches or pain around the ear that spreads to the cheeks.
If the pain is not located near to the jaw, a doctor will often look for other symptoms before diagnosing a TMJ disorder.
A common but often painless symptom is an unusual popping, clicking, or even grinding noise that can occur while eating, talking, or simply opening the mouth.
Noises that occur when moving the jaw are not always a symptom of TMJ disorders. In fact, jaw noises are quite common. It is only when the sounds occur alongside pain or limited movement of the jaw that medical advice may be needed.
Buzzing, ringing, or numbness in the ears can occur alongside earaches, and these symptoms can also be associated with TMJ disorders.
Limited movement that prevents the mouth from being opened fully or the jaw from being moved in certain directions can cause severe discomfort in everyday life.
There are a variety of treatment options available.
In many cases, people can successfully treat TMJ disorders at home. Self-care and lifestyle changes may be enough to handle mild-to-moderate symptoms.
Recommended self-care treatments may involve reducing movement of the jaw. When rest is recommended, this could involve:
On the other hand, gentle exercises may be recommended, such as stretching the jaw slightly. Massaging the affected muscles around the jaw may also help.
A combination of both rest and gentle exercise may be recommended. A healthcare professional can advise on the most appropriate exercises to follow, as well as other lifestyle changes that could ease TMJ disorder symptoms.
Applying ice or moist heat can help reduce symptoms.
For TMJ disorders that are caused by pre-existing conditions, more specific treatment options may be available.
For example, if the TMJ disorder is caused by tooth grinding or clenching during sleep, a mouth guard may help to ease the symptoms. A dentist can provide a mouth guard where appropriate.
In cases where TMJ disorders are caused by degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis, steroid injections may be a recommended treatment option.
The steroid, which is injected into the joint itself, will help to ease swelling, reducing pain and other symptoms. In many cases, a reduction of pain is experienced within a week.
In some cases, an injection may resolve the symptoms of TMJ disorders permanently, and in others, it may be a temporary fix.
Short-term over-the-counter pain medications can reduce discomfort.
In more extreme cases of TMJ disorder, surgery may be the most efficient treatment for pain and restricted movement.
A TMJ disorder can be caused by damage to the joint itself, to the muscles surrounding the jaw, or by another condition. Surgery is only recommended when the actual joint has something wrong with it.
In very severe cases of TMJ disorders, where movement of the jaw is extremely restricted, and symptoms are long-lasting, the joint may need to be replaced. This treatment is rarely required, however.
People should always seek professional medical advice about any treatment, even if the treatment involves self-care and basic lifestyle changes.
TMJ disorders are often not serious and will pass after a couple of months. Symptoms are frequently mild and tend to cause only minimal inconvenience.
In some cases, however, TMJ disorders will be serious and long-lasting. When the condition lowers quality of life, diagnosis and treatment must be sought as soon as possible to manage or resolve the condition.
Whether the condition is mild or serious, professional advice is always essential for treating TMJ disorders.
Dr. Jacob Elisha has over 30 years of experience in the field of dentistry, periodontics, and cutting-edge restorative techniques in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Jacob Elisha is an authority in on TMJ Disorders. He has successfully treated patients with TMJ disorders in Los Angeles in the past and looks forward to the future.
TMJ Disorders. An award-winning oral maxillofacial surgeon and Los Angeles TMJ specialist, Dr. Jacob Elisha is known for providing among the most effective TMJ treatment Beverly Hills has to offer—improving jaw function and delivering permanent relief from chronic pain.
TMJ disorders affect your temporomandibular joint, which allows your mouth to open and move smoothly. We offer specialized treatment in Los Angeles, CA . The temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders — a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth (bruxism), although many people habitually clench or grind their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders. In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders is temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Surgery is typically a last resort after conservative measures have failed, but some people with TMJ disorders may benefit from surgical treatments. TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there’s no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don’t need treatment for a TMJ disorder. Seek medical attention if you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can’t open or close your jaw completely. Your doctor, your dentist or a TMJ specialist can discuss possible causes and treatments for your problem.
What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome? There are several risk factors for TMD: Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and abnormalities of jaw muscle function. Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching. Women 18-44 years of age have increased risk. Patients with other chronic inflammatory arthritis have increased risk. People with jaw trauma or poorly positioned teeth have increased risk. People who have a genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress responses may be more susceptible.
The temporomandibular joint is more commonly referred to as the TMJ joint, but what is TMJ? This joint is actually located at the base of the skull in front of the ear structure and connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the upper jaw (maxilla). Unlike most joints located in the body, the TMJ is unique in its structure, composed of a rounded protrusion of the mandible that sits against an indentation in the skull, and a disc-like structure made of a soft bone called cartilage found in between the two bones (articular disc). These three parts of the TMJ are held together by ligaments originating from different parts of the head and neck to support the jaw and guide its movements. Several muscles are connected to those ligaments, and many aid in the motion of the lower jaw. How Does it Work? The TMJ works in two ways to open your mouth: The first way is like a hinge to simply open and close the mouth, just like a hinge on a door. The second way is a sliding motion called translation, wherein your lower jaw moves down and forward. This motion helps the TMJ to move backward and forward and from side to side for actions such as eating, yawning and singing – some of the most common. What Can Happen to the TMJ? Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can be fractured, swell and become sore, causing limited movement of the lower jaw and pain radiating to the head and neck area. A fracture to the actual articular disc is rare, but it can be displaced, causing severe pain and swelling. Unlike other joints such as knees and hips, arthritis of the TMJ is very rare, and hard to treat with anti-inflammatory drugs alone. Nonetheless, pain in the TMJ is often temporary, and can be treated with a combination of ice then heat to relieve the sore ligaments and muscles surrounding the joint. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMD, occurs when there are problems with the muscles and jaws in the face. There are many signs and symptoms of TMD. It’s often hard to know for sure if you have TMD, because one or all of these symptoms can also be present for other problems. Your dentist can help make a proper diagnosis. What About Grinding and Clenching? Sometimes, pain in the TMJ can come from the teeth themselves, as opposed to the TMJ and surrounding ligaments.
As a TMJ doctor, Dr. Jacob Elisha delivers a TMJ treatment in Los Angeles for patients who are suffering from extreme pain to help resolve the condition. Because TMJ disorders can be extremely painful, Dr. Jacob Elisha’s first priority is symptom relief. Although these measures won’t permanently cure TMJ, they will alleviate much of the chronic pain associated with the condition. This variety makes diagnosis and treatment challenging. An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. For instance, patients with a muscle problem that is causing pain will most likely not benefit from surgery on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Ask about your doctor’s experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ and facial pain. Most problems, whether muscular or within the joint, get better over time. For this reason, most experts agree that it’s best to use conservative treatment at first. But in some instances, surgery or other procedures, such as injections, may be recommended as a first treatment. Most people with TMD have temporary symptoms that are not serious and do not get worse. They usually can get better with simple treatments done at home. Sometimes symptoms go away without any treatment at all. They also can come back without warning. If you have TMD, your dentist may suggest the treatments listed below. Most dentists agree that these treatments work best in combination. You may not get relief using only one. To begin, Dr. Jacob Elisha will prescribe a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant to relieve muscle spasms and joint pain. In some cases, he may also inject a specialized steroid directly into the joints to dramatically reduce pain and inflammation. From there, Dr. Jacob Elisha will prescribe self-care treatments—advising the patient to rest the jaw, eat soft foods, apply ice to the affected area and practice proper posture. Depending on the specifics of your TMJ disorder, he may also recommend physical therapy to improve jaw function