Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) are problems or symptoms that occur in the joints that connect your lower jar (mandible) to the skull. Each individual has two matching Temporomandibular joints, one on each side of the head and located just in front of the ears.

What causes TMJ Disorders?

Most cases of TMJ are the result of physical stress on or around the Temporomandibular joints. The structures can include:

  • Cartilage surrounding the joint;
  • Muscular structures of the jaw, face and neck;
  • Damage to ligaments, blood vessels and nerves; and
  • Misalignment or other damage to the teeth;

Some of the problems that can cause the symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Arthritic conditions;
  • Fractures of the mandible and its surrounding structures;
  • Dislocations of the mandible and its surrounding structures;
  • Congenital deformities
  • Grinding of the teeth while sleeping;

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ can be confused with sinusitis. That is because both TMJ and sinusitis have “facial pain” and “headache” as two of the significant symptoms. However, TMJ has the following additional symptoms which are typically not part of sinusitis.

  • Difficulty when biting or chewing;
  • Clicking sound or sensation when opening the mouth;
  • Pain or discomfort of the jaw joint;
  • Reduced ability to open the mouth.

What types of prevention can be taken to prevent the symptoms of TMJ?

Preventative measures against the symptoms of TMJ by:

  • Avoiding eating hard or chewy foods;
  • Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and muscle tension;
  • Maintain good posture specifically when working on the computer or working in a leaning forward position;
  • Prevent exposure to the risk of dislocations and fractures of the jaw.

When should I contact a medical professional?

Individuals should contact a medical professional immediately if experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ and most certainly if there is significant trouble eating or opening the mouth.

Who is qualified to treat TMJ?

A specialized professional, preferably an otolaryngologist with extensive sinus experience, is necessary to evaluate and diagnose these symptoms and determine whether the symptoms are caused by TMJ or chronic or acute sinusitis. If it is sinusitis, It is important to not only deal with the current bout of sinusitis, but to take steps to reduce the chances of the sinusitis recurring in the future, which require analysis of the likely contributing factors.

The sinus-specialty otolaryngologists of The Sinus Institute at CEI have over 35 years of experience treating sinusitis in all of its forms using both medical treatments and cutting edge surgery options. Click here to make an appointment.