Published: 08/29/2013 - Updated: 11/23/2016
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TJD) is a problem that affects the temporomandibular joint of the jaw, a joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull, and it is one of the most common causes of facial pain.
Problems with this joint are more common than thought, and symptoms that characterize it are headaches, pain in the cheeks, pain or tenderness in the jaw, discomfort with chewing, clicking when opening or closing the mouth, creaking sensation when chewing, decreased ability to open or close the mouth and a ringing in the ears.
Some people may also experience jaw-lock, especially after opening the mouth wide to yawn, in which the patient cannot close it again. In these cases, do not force the joint and see a doctor: there are some patients who have learned how to act in such cases due to the frequent occurrences of jaw lock.
There are several causes that can potentially cause TJD. Sometimes it is congenital abnormalities, arthritis, fractures or dislocations of the jaw. It can also be caused by a misalignment of the teeth or a habit of clenching or grinding the teeth, whether asleep or awake, as a result of stress. It is important to know the cause in order to choose a treatment.
Although not always accompanied by pain, if it exists, the application of heat can help, so try hot compresses on the painful joint. A face cloth soaked in hot water works well as a compress.
Do not put your elbows on the table, as supporting your jaw on your hand is not recommended if you suffer from TJD.
For pain relief you can also use acupressure
1. Apply pressure between the upper and lower jaws on the protruding muscle when you clench your teeth.
2. Apply pressure with your fingers, press hard directly in front of the space where the muscle lengthens when you open your mouth.
Avoid opening the mouth widely, try not opening the mouth when you yawn, or chewing. Avoids taking big bites of food that may require opening the mouth.
Relieve daily stress
If the main cause is stress, combating it may be the most appropriate treatment, whether through relaxation techniques, yoga or any sport that allows you to release daily stress. The use of alternative therapies such as aromatherapy are tools that can contribute to healing too.
There are several treatment options for Temporomandibular joint disorder:
Dental or oral splint device: A less invasive and effective option is the use of a dental appliance for sleep and to help relax the jaw muscles during sleep, preventing teeth grinding or tightening.
Arthrocentesis: Involves cleaning out the superior joint space, allowing mobility of the joint. This procedure is done to help the patient avoid having jaw lock and also to treat joint pain.
Surgery: To treat the symptoms, ease pain, prevent clicks and properly position the jaw, surgery requires general anesthesia and carries general risks of surgery. It is important to consult a specialist to advise us on the possible consequences of performing this operation because it is possible that the patient can continue with the symptoms. Surgery should be considered as a last resort.