How to treat temporomandibular joint disorders

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders have a relatively low prevalence. It is estimated that only about 5-10% of the population is affected.

Perhaps you have it yourself. If so, this article is for you.

Clinique MFML‘s team of maxillofacial surgeons will give you an overview of the different treatments for temporomandibular joint disorders.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

The temporomandibular joint is located on each side of the face, right in front of the ears. It connects the lower jaw to the skull bone and is the joint that allows the jaw to move.

The temporomandibular joint also allows us to chew, speak and swallow. It therefore plays a significant role.

Classifying temporomandibular joint disorders

There are 2 categories of TMJ disorders:

  • Muscle disorders
  • Joint disorders

You can have either of these disorders individually or simultaneously, which sometimes complicates diagnosis.

Temporomandibular joint disorder causes

Here are a few of the many causes of temporomandibular joint disorders:

Symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders

TMJ disorders are typically accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Spasms
  • Stiffness or limitations when opening the mouth
  • Joint noises
  • Discomfort or pain in the face and jaw, which can spread from the neck to the shoulders
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Jaw dislocation
  • Jaw locking
  • Difficulty chewing

Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint disorders

Clinical examination

A clinical examination is usually enough to diagnose temporomandibular joint disorders.

During the clinical examination, the patient’s facial asymmetry, muscle hypertrophy and tooth wear are evaluated. The opening of the mouth can also be checked and measured.

In addition, the maxillofacial surgeon typically palpates the TMJ under the zygomatic arch to detect spasms and pain that may be present.

Complementary examinations

Depending on the case, additional examinations may be required to identify temporomandibular joint disorders.

These include laboratory tests (in the case of acute or chronic inflammatory or infectious disease),  3D radiology or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treating temporomandibular joint disorders

Most temporomandibular joint disorders are benign. Most of them even resolve themselves within 6 months without the need for any intervention.

However, certain conditions require treatment, especially in the following cases:

  • Severe pain or discomfort
  • Internal displacements
  • Limited or excessive jaw opening
  • Development or birth defects

Let’s take a look at the main treatments for temporomandibular joint disorders.

Medical treatments

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Botulinum toxin injections

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is often the main treatment for patients with joint or muscle disorders. Some jaw and muscle relaxation exercises can also improve the mobility of the temporomandibular joint.

Wearing an occlusal splint

Occlusal splints are sometimes recommended for patients who mainly have muscle pain. This custom-made device is worn at night for an indefinite period of time.

Surgical treatments

There are also various surgical treatments for temporomandibular joint disorders. These can be open surgery or minimally invasive surgery such as arthroscopy and arthrocentesis.

Preventing temporomandibular join disorders

In some cases, temporomandibular joint and other oral pathologies can be prevented. This prevention comes from correcting or eliminating risk factors.

Temporomandibular joint disorder treatments at Clinique MFML

Treating temporomandibular joint disorders usually requires the intervention of several professionals such as dentists or orthodontists. Physiotherapists and osteopaths may also be involved, depending on the case.

This concludes our overview. We hope you gained some insight from this overview of the various treatments for temporomandibular joint disorders.

For more information on the world of maxillofacial surgery, visit our website’s blog section.

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