profile of temporal bone

TMJ disorders are quite common in the general US population, with women being more susceptible to it than men. 12% of the entire population reports restricted movement and pain in the temporomandibular joint or TMJ as it is commonly called. The ratio of women to men who suffer from disorders in this particular joint is 9:1.

There are a number of reasons why women complain of this type of pain more often than men. Huntsville family dentistry professionals emphasize the need for regular check-ups to ensure that any disorders of this joint can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

The jaws are known commonly amongst dentists as mandibles. The TMJ connects the lower mandible with the temporal bone which is located at the side of the skull. Now this is the main joint that allows our mouth to open and close in order to perform certain functions like talking, chewing, etc. Like every joint, there are muscles and tendons that give this joint the flexibility needed to perform these respective functions.

TMJ disorders of TMDs are also known to occur in the bones or the muscles surrounding it. It is one of the most complicated joints in the body, so treatment of TMDs is quite challenging for Huntsville family dentistry professionals.

Causes of TMD

There have been a number of causes that researchers have identified for TMD. These can vary based on a number of factors like a person’s genetics, hormones or even profession. For instance, violinists report a higher rate of TMD because they play the instrument continuously for long periods of time by holding it under their jaw. Other causes of TMD include but are not limited to:

  • Physical injury or any surgeries of the oral cavity,
  • A habit of grinding teeth while sleeping or during daily routine,
  • Bone diseases like arthritis and infections.

Scientists have not yet discovered the exact reason why TMD is more common in women than in men but it is believed that the female hormone estrogen might have a role in it. Studies are underway to substantiate these assumptions.

Signs and symptoms

Besides the obvious pain at the site of the TMJ, there are other symptoms that indicate whether or not a person has TMD. Some of these are unusual sounds like clicking or grinding alongside the pain, earaches and certain tingly sensations near the ear or restricted movement in the jaw. It is important to consult a Huntsville family dentistry professional to make sure that any signs you are witnessing are not associated with TMD.

Treatment options

There are a number of ways in which TMD can be treated. These include all or one of the following:

  • Curing the symptoms: The first option is treating the current symptoms like pain and restricted movement. This can be done with pain-killing medications or steroid injections. This is only a temporary solution until a more permanent solution can be found. Also, if TMD is caused by grinding of the teeth during sleep, it can be treated by using a mouth guard,
  • Changing habits: One of the benefits of regular dentist visits is that TMD can be detected in the earliest stages and it might also be treated at home. This can be done through rest, changing a few habits like avoiding gums and eating soft foods as well as gentle exercises for the joint,
  • Surgery: This is the worst case scenario. Surgery for TMD is considered quite complex as is only recommended as a last resort.

TMD is quite a common problem and it is important to visit a Huntsville family dentistry professional regularly to ensure that it can be treated in its earliest stages.