The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (jaw) to your skull to allow you to open and close your mouth. It is essential that your TMJ functions normally in order for you to perform vital functions like eating and talking.
For healthy function of your TMJ, there are several anatomical structures that must be in good condition:
  • The bones: The condylar head and the glenoid fossa
  • The articular disc: The cushion between the bones
  • The muscles: The muscles of mastication
  • The ligaments: Tough fibrous bands which hold the TMJ in place
Abnormality or injury to any of these, either singularly or in combination, can results in TMJ dysfunction.
The main symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are:
  • Pain, which can be:
    • Directly over the TMJ
    • Referred, resulting in headaches, jaw pain and neck pain
  • Trismus (decreased mouth opening)
  • Crepitus: Noises in the joint upon movement
Accurate diagnosis of the cause for your TMJ dysfunction may require Xray, CT scan or MRI scan.
The goals of treatment for TMJ dysfunction are:
  • Pain-free function
  • Improved mouth opening
  • Education on self-management for TMJ dysfunction
 
Once Dr Tan-Gore has discussed the cause of your TMJ dysfunction with you, she will recommend a treatment which may include a combination of:
  • Physiotherapy: You may be recommended a course of Physiotherapy as the main treatment, or in combination with surgery to maximise your pain free function
  • Oral Splint: You may be referred to a Dentist or Prosthetist to have an oral splint made. The splint is different from a mouth guard and is designed to keep open your mouth slightly in order to decrease the pressure on your joint.
  • Arthroscopy: A small camera is inserted into your jaw joint through small incisions, which helps with diagnosis. It can also be used to perform a washout of the joint to remove inflammatory mediators and debris, and to place medicaments directly into the joint.
  • Open Surgery: Surgery which allows for direct access to the joint.
  • TMJ Replacement: If the joint damage is severe, then a Total Joint Replacement may be recommended

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DYSFUNCTION

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