Temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your upper and lower jaw. It is located just in front of the ears and there are two TMJs one on each side. TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint. On opening the mouth, the ball also called the condyle moves out of the socket and travels forward. On closing the mouth the condyle goes back into the socket. If the condyle moves too far and gets wedged in front of a bony prominence known as articular eminence the TMJ can get dislocated and cannot go back in the socket. There are ligaments around the TMJ which hold the joint in place. If these ligaments are loose the joint can get dislocated.
TMD can cause severe discomfort and pain. The problem may be temporary or last many years. It may affect on or both sides of your face. The common symptoms are pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide. You may find it diffcult to open your mouth wide. You may also have trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite -- as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly.
Treatment of temporomandibular disorder aims to reduce the spasm in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular so that the condyle can go back in its normal position. In most people the dislocated jaw can be corrected without local anesthetics. Some people require injection of local anesthetics in the jaw joint and muscle relaxants to relax the spasms. You will be advised to eat soft or liquid diet for several days to reduce jaw movement and stress on it.
Prognosis of temporomandibular joint is good. The dislocated ball of the joint can be returned into the socket. If the joint undergoes recurrent dislocation you may need surgery.
Read more articles on Dislocation of the TMJ.
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