As we age, we encounter different disorders that have no life-threatening concerns but can be highly distressing. One such condition is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder which affects the jaw joints and the muscles and ligaments surrounding it. In this article, Dr Sameer Mahendra, Head of Department - Dental, Maxillofacial Surgery and Implantology, Apollo Dental, Kondapur, will delve deep into what TMJ disorder is, its causes and how people suffering from it can manage the pain efficiently.
Also Read: 5 Common Oral Diseases: Causes & Preventions
What Is TMJ?
TMJ or Temporomandibular Joints are joints that connect your jawbone to your skull. It is located in front of the ears and on both sides of the face. The TMJ aids specific jaw movements, such as opening or closing your mouth to speak or chew.
Understanding TMJ Disorder (TMD) And Its Causes
TMD refers to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which involves joint tenderness and facial pain. One may find it challenging to make jaw movements as simple as opening the mouth. This occurs when the muscles and ligaments around the jaw joints suffer from inflammation.
According to Dr Mahendra, TMJ disorder is mainly becoming a lifestyle-related health issue in India, especially among the younger generation. “Previously, the disorders were largely focused on childbirth issues, trauma, or any hit on the face joint. Now the focus has become more on lifestyle issues, such as stress and chewing on gutka and paan,” the doctor says.
He further explained, “TMJ disorder wears off the joint or causes inflammation in the joint. The joint is very close to your eardrum, and if there is any wear and tear in the cartilage of this joint, it comes in bone-to-bone contact with the cranium (skull). This causes a lot of pressure on the nerves and thus causes a lot of discomfort.”
The symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Ear pain
- Onset of the clicking sound
- Heaviness on the face and neck
- Pain across the ear lobe to the neck and eyes
- Bruxism, a condition caused due to stress, wherein you grind your teeth during sleep.
How To Relieve TMJ Pain?
“The solution to relieve TMJ disorder pain is to learn to de-stress by doing yoga and meditation. Lifestyle changes include eating on time, sleeping on time, and giving enough rest to your body. It is important that the joint is not stressed out beyond a certain point,” says Dr Mahendra.
In many cases, TMJ symptoms resolve independently with effective home remedies and stress-reducing strategies. However, sometimes, one may have to consult doctors and resort to medications. Although the condition is not life-threatening, its symptoms can affect the quality of life, so managing the pain is crucial.