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September 19, 2019

Is there a persistent pain on your face, or neck, or shoulders, or in and around the ear when you speak, chew or even when you open your mouth wide? Do not oversee it; consult your dentist immediately because you may be a victim of temporomandibular joint disorders.

What is a temporo mandibular joint(TMJ)?

It is a joint that connects your lower jaw to the temporal bones of your skull or simply it is a joint that connects your upper jaw with the lower jaw. The temporomandibular joint helps you to move your jaw up and down, and side to side; so that you can talk, chew and yawn. Now the problems with your jaw and the muscles attached to this joint and control it are called temporomandibular disorders. It is estimated that 30% of the population suffer from temporomandibular disorder at some point in their lives.

What are the types of temporo mandibular disorders?

Myofascial pain- This is a pain in muscles that control the jaw function  like the muscles that help in chewing, talking, yawning , opening and closing of the mouth.

Disc derangement in the joint- There is a shock absorbing disc in the TMJ called articular disc which helps in keeping the jaw movements smooth. If this disc gets eroded or dislocated from its position, pain starts in the joint. The jaw may get locked and the patient cannot open and close his mouth normally.

Degenerative conditions- occur when joint cartilage is affected by arthritis.

Inflammatory conditions- pain, redness, swelling can occur when the joint is damaged by a blow or impact.

What are the causes of this disorder?

Multiple factors are responsible for this disorder. Some of the common causes are:

Stress- when you put a lot of pressure on the joint by clenching the teeth tight during stress.

Trauma- impact or blow to the joint damages the tissue of the joint.

Genetic causes

Improper bite- constant improper bite leads to stress over the joint leading to disorder.

Muscle disorders


Bony disorders

What are the common signs and symptoms of this disorder?

Pain in the joint when swallowing or chewing

Clicking, popping of jaw joints

Limited opening of mouth

Inability to open mouth smoothly

Jaw lock- unable to open or close 

Jaw deviates to one side when opening

Improper bite

Clenching of teeth

Sensitivity of teeth

Facial pain

Pain in cheek muscles

Ear problems- ear ache, ringing in the ears

Headaches , neck pain

How to diagnose this disorder?

Various diagnostic aids and advanced technology is now available to diagnose temporo mandibular disorders.

T-SCAN does digital occlusal(bite) analysis to identify the problems in occlusion

Electro diagnostic system- identifies abnormalities in the lower jaw and the muscles of the joint.

3D jaw tracker- it records all the jaw movements precisely and in three dimensions which helps to identify the precise cause for the dysfunction.

Electromyography(EMG)- it measures the activity of the muscles which helps to identify and correct bite positions.

Joint vibration analysis- it helps in the assessment of the condition of the joint.

What is the management of this disorder?

Selfcare-following soft diet, moist heat/ice application in case of swelling, jaw exercises at home.

Behavioral management- avoiding clenching of the teeth.

Psychological counseling in case of stress management.

Pharmacological management by NSAIDS, steroid injections in case of inflammation.

Some disorders like locking of the jaw can be corrected manually by the dentist.

Surgical approach like arthroscopy, joint replacement etc, in case of trauma, arthritis, inflammation.


This is the joint which you use most of the day, so try to avoid putting too much pressure on the joint by avoiding repeated clenching of the teeth, avoiding stress and seek immediate dental care when you notice abnormalities in the jaw movements.

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