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Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome

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The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is the joint that connects your temporal bone on the skull, and the mandible (jaw bone). When things go wrong with your TMJ, it can have a disruption on your day to day. From eating and enjoying food, to even sleeping.

Here at Smile Cliniq, we are a team of leading dental specialists, and can assist you with Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome.

An Introduction to Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome

Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ PDS), includes pain caused by over working masseters (muscles of mastication), grinding, clicking and joint locking of the TMJ.  Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) refer to a group of disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), masticatory muscles and the associated structures.

TMJ PDS is thought to be relatively common affecting up to 25% of the population at different times in their lives, however only 5% seek help.  TMJ PDS may occur at any age but is more common in females 20–50-year-olds.

What Causes TMJ PDS?

TMJ PDS can be caused by many things acting together to create the symptoms. Recent research has shown that the condition comes from overusing this area of muscles and joints, that than it being due to a misalignment.

Some example factors that can contribute to it include:

  • Muscle over activity (grinding, parafunction and bruxism).
  • Dental malocclusion (the bite of the jaws).
  • Chronic Pain syndromes, increased pain sensitivity amongst other psychological reasons.
  • Intra-articular disc derangement, arthritis (osteo or rheumatoid)
  • Trauma
  • Infection (i.e. pericorinitis)
  • Congenital Disorders
  • TMJ hypo or hyper mobility

What are the main symptoms of TMJ PDS?

It’s important to note that TMJ PDS is a benign condition, meaning that it won’t cause long-term damage. Symptoms tend to come and go, and often worsen with anxiety. Some symptoms you may experience from TMJ PDS include:

  • Jaw pain or soreness that may be worse when you wake up or at night
  • Jaw pain when biting, chewing, or yawning
  • Clicking from your jaw joint when you move it
  • Stiffness or locking of your jaw joint
  • Earache
  • Difficulty opening and/or closing your mouth
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty swallowing

How Can Smile Cliniq Help with Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome?

At Smile Cliniq, we will perform a thorough examination, which may include radiographs of the TMJ joint.  Once completed we have an array of treatments depending on the causative factors; these may include Removal of any infection, Splint therapy, botulinum toxin placed into the over active muscles (masseter and temporalis), occlusal (bite) adjustments and jaw exercises.

Please get in touch if you would like some advice.

Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ PDS) FAQs:

How is TMJ PDS treated?

There are many simple and effective treatments for managing TMJ PDS, but no single cure. Although, studies have shown that up to 90% of patients of all patients will get better with self-care, exercises and using a customised hard bite guard to reduce the tension in their jaw muscles.

Occasionally, other types of treatment can help, such as adjusting the biting surfaces of your teeth, medication, or gentle jaw exercises. It is very rare to need specialist dental care (orthodontics) or jaw joint surgery to correct TMJ PDS.

What can I do to alleviate my symptoms of TMJ PDS?

Treatment is based around self-care – the more you help yourself, the more effective your treatment.

  • Keep your teeth apart. The correct resting position for your jaw is to have your teeth slightly apart and your tongue resting on the floor of your mouth. This allows your jaw and muscles to rest and relax. Your teeth should only touch when you are chewing, swallowing, and sometimes speaking.
  • Avoid opening your mouth wide.
  • Avoid habits such as chewing your fingernails and gum.
  • Avoid straining your neck and back with prolonged poor posture, for example, when you are working at a computer or a desk.
  • Eat foods that you do not need to chew hard or for a long time.
  • Do wear the hard bite guard if your dentist gives you one.
  • Try to reduce the sources of stress in your life if possible and do more general physical exercise if you can.

What is the prognosis for Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome?

Since TMJ PDS has many symptoms which overlap with other functional and complex pain syndromes, the outlook for it depends on psychological factors as well as mechanical ones. In most cases, TMJ PDS is manged most well with a multidisciplinary approach.

There are some risk factors associated with chronic or prolonged TMJ PDS, and these include:

  • Being female.
  • Increasing age at presentation.
  • Higher reported pain intensity.
  • More widespread nonspecific symptoms.
  • Comorbid psychosocial factors – for example, anxiety or depression.

How is anxiety and depression related to TMJ PDS?

Elevated stress, depression and anxiety can often cause muscle tension, including the jaw. Therefore, these mental health issues can exaggerate TMJ PDS pain and symptoms by aggravating the muscles and increasing tension and bruxing.

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