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Temporomandibular joint disorder; 2 MINUTES ON...


The temporomandibular joint allows the lower jaw to move in all directions so that the teeth can be used to bite off and chew food efficiently by connecting the lower jawbone to the part of the skull known as the temporal bone.

In temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), the joint, the muscles and the ligaments that control it don't work together properly, causing pain.

TMJD is most commonly caused by spasm of the chewing muscles, often as a result of nervous clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth.

A poor bite (malocclusion) places stress on the muscles and may also be the cause of TMJD, as may an injury to the head, jaw or neck that causes displacement of the joint. In some cases, arthritis is a cause.

What are the symptoms?

Headaches; tenderness in the jaw muscles; aching pain in the face; and severe pain near the ears.

Pain on chewing or opening the mouth too widely when yawning may cause locking of the jaw and clicking noises from the joint as the mouth is opened or closed.

What might be done?

Treatment is aimed at eliminating muscle spasm and tension and relieving pain.

There are several self-help measures that you can adopt, including applying a warm, wet towel to the face, massaging the facial muscles, eating only soft foods and using a guard that fits over your teeth at night to prevent teeth clenching or grinding.

Taking analgesics, such as aspirin and paracetamol, help relieve pain.

Your doctor may prescribe muscle-relaxant drugs if tension of the chewing muscles is severe.

If stress is a major factor, relaxation techniques may help.

Your dentist can adjust your bite with a corrective device.

What's the outlook?

In approximately three out of four cases of TMJD, the symptoms show improvement within three months of treatment.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 21, 2014
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