Jaw and Temporomandibular pain / TMJ dysfunction

Temporomandibular pain or joint disorders are problems which affect the jaw joint.

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Symptoms

Problems with the temporomandibular or jaw joint are often termed TMJ dysfunction and can refer pain into the temple, cheek or nearby area. Sometimes clicking and reduced jaw movement is associated with TMJ dysfunction and if not painful now, may become painful later on.

Patients usually complain of not being able to open their mouth very wide and/or pain.

Cause

Usually the cause is not serious and can be helped with physiotherapy in isolation or in combination with your dentist.

TMJ dysfunction can usually be classified by two main problems: the joint itself, (the joint surfaces or the articular disc in the joint) or the muscles surrounding the joint. People who grind their teeth often develop a TMJ problem at some point in their life. Excessive grinding can lead to early wear on the joint (arthritis)

Prevention

Keeping your jaw as relaxed as possible will help to avoid developing a problem with this joint.

Treatment

If it is the joint itself or the surrounding muscles, both aspects can be treated and helped by physiotherapy. This will involve releasing muscles which may be tight, or joint mobilisations to improve joint range.