TMJ – The Basics of Diagnosis

Margarita FolkPosted by
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Temporomandibular jaw disease, or TMJ, is a broad term for a collection of jaw conditions characterized by pain in the face, jaw and teeth, and limitations in jaw movement. While not all causes are known, research has shown that TMJ can be caused by injury to the jaw area, arthritis, dental procedures, infections, auto-immune diseases, misalignment of the jaw, or teeth grinding.
Symptoms
While symptoms of TMJ vary, Allstar Smiles' Dr. Sam Simos at http://www.allstarsmiles.com reports the most common symptoms include:

· Dull pain in the jaw joint or surrounding areas

· Problems using the jaw or accessibility to open the mouth comfortably

· Clicking or grating sounds from the jaw joint

· Limited movement or locking of the jaw

· Numbness in fingers or arms

· A bite that feels uncomfortable or misaligned

· Headache or neck, shoulder or back pain

· Swelling of the jaw or on the side of the face

· Worn, chipped or cracked teeth

· Ringing in ears or hearing loss

TMJ Diagnosis

TMJ is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of many other conditions. For example, facial pain can be a symptom of a sinus or ear infection, abscessed tooth, migraine, or any type of nerve related facial condition. Accordingly, proper diagnosis of TMJ requires the assistance of an experienced neuromuscular dentist to perform a complete assessment including a detailed medical history and physical examination of the face, head, neck and jaw areas.

Who is Affected by TMJ?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) reports that over 10 million people in the United States are currently suffering from TMJ. While both men and women experience TMJ, 90 percent of the patients seeking treatment for TMJ are women in their childbearing years. Research indicates that women seek treatment for TMJ at a higher rate than men and that women are more likely than men to report ongoing pain associated with TMJ. Significantly, research performed by the NIDCR has documented a correlation between hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptive therapy with pain treatment. This may explain why more women tend to suffer symptoms and seek help for TMJ pain.

Treatment

Research has shown that the underlying conditions causing TMJ are either structural, biochemical or emotional. The structural element is a result of the way the jaw opens and closes. By treating any misalignments in the jaw bite or position, the structural problem is remedied and relief of pain and accompanying tension and stress helps the biochemical and emotional elements.

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Source by Patricia Woloch