Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
is a painful condition in the joint that opens and closes the mouth. These temporomandibular joints are the small joints in front of each ear. They attach the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. The disorder may affect the jaw joint or the muscles surrounding it. The disorder can include:
Damage to the joint surface or intra-articular disk
Displacement or complete dislocation of jaw bones
The exact cause of TMJ is often unclear. Possible causes include:
Injury of the jaw or face
Excess tension in the jaw muscles
Faulty alignment between the upper and lower teeth
Disturbed movement of the jaw joint
Displacement or abnormal position of the jaw joint or cartilage disc inside the jaw joint
Arthritis or similar inflammatory process in the joint
Excess or limited motion of the joint
TMJ is more common in women aged 30-50 years old. Other factors that increase your chance of TMJ include:
Clenching or grinding of teeth
Poorly fitting dentures or crowns
Symptoms may include:
Pain in the temporomandibular joint, jaw, or face
Pain may be worse with chewing, yawning, or opening the mouth
Clicking, popping, or grating sounds with movement of the jaw
A sensation of the jaw catching or locking briefly, while attempting to open or close the mouth, or while chewing
Difficulty opening the mouth completely
A bite that feels off, uncomfortable, or as though it is frequently changing
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The physical exam may include:
Tests for range of motion of the jaw
Listening for sounds of popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joints
Visual inspection of your teeth, temporomandibular joints, and muscles of your face and head
Palpation of the joints and the muscles of the face and head
Tests may include:
Arthrography—jaw movements videotaped with x-rays taken after dye is injected into the joint
The goal of Physical Therapy treatment for Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMJ) is to provide pain relief using a variety of techniques
to improve your range of motion through exercise and manual therapy and to improve posture and muscle imbalance. There may be
modifications to your activities or work station that would be helpful as well.
YOUR TREATMENT WILL INCLUDE, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO:
A comprehensive evaluation of head, neck, and jaw
Education regarding the diagnosis and related head, neck, and jaw dysfunction. This includes addressing any of your
questions or concerns.
Individualized program specific to your needs including modalities, joint mobilization techniques, soft tissue mobilization, postural
education, neuromuscular reeducation and TMJ management techniques.
Collaboration between referring physician to ensure comprehensive and integrated care.
There are no current guidelines to prevent TMJ.
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American Dental Association
The TMJ Association
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery
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