Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

image28

By Professor Yoland Lim Health Care

Do you have pain in the jaw? 

Trouble chewing? 

Jaw aching?

Difficulty opening your mouth? 

Stuck or locked jaw? 

Weird noise or clicking of the jaw? 


You may have TMJ disorder. This affects up to 60-70% of all people[1], who will have sign of a TMJ disorder at some point in their lives. 

                    

The TMJ is located where the mandible (lower jaw) attaches to the base of your skull on each side of your head. You can find this by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening and closing your mouth and you can feel these joints move. Muscles, ligaments and tendons attach across the TMJ to control its movements.

Symptoms

Pain, clicking, locking, facial pain and headache.

Causes

The exact cause of a TMJ disorder is not always known. The majority are due to joint degeneration, trauma or injury to the mouth[2].


Other conditions which can contribute include:

  • osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which may cause considerable TMJ dysfunction
  • sustained emotional or physical stress
  • bruxism (Teeth grinding)


TMJ may contribute to emotional tension or depression. Chronic TMJ pain and dysfunction can be difficult to treat.


There are surgical procedures which involves opening into the joint and joint replacement. However as with any medical procedure there are potential risks, including the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve, that provides the nerve signals for facial movement) which may be affected. Permanent nerve damage is rare but could lead to facial palsy on the affected side and some nerve damage may be permanent. 


Professor Yoland Lim Health Care’s clinical examination includes:

  • inspecting your face, jaws and mouth for signs of disease 
  • evaluating jaw movements 
  • gently palpating jaws and chewing muscles 
  • listening for TMJ noises during movement 
  • may refer you for blood tests (for rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue disorders) and X-ray, CT or MRI scans of the jaws and TMJ.

Treatment Program

Integrative medicine and Acupuncture Treatment

Professor Yoland Lim Health Care uses an integrated medical approach which may include:

  • Modified diet: to rest the jaw, eat predominantly soft food that requires little or no chewing. When a small amount of chewing is necessary, try to chew evenly on both sides of the mouth.
  • Hot or cold packs. Hot packs on painful areas may help to relax muscles and soothe tenderness. Cold packs may help to reduce inflammation in the TMJ or chewing muscles.
  • Stress management using binaural therapy, Professor Yoland Lim Health Care's form of Meditation Music (Chanting) may be combined with techniques to relax and minimise stress to help reduce clenching or grinding of teeth. Identify sources of stress, and make necessary lifestyle changes.    
  • Relaxation techniques may include deep breathing
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements: resist chewing hard foods or talking too much.


The holistic patient centred approach aims to promote relaxation, relax muscle tone, and reduce stress.

Prognosis

Although some patients respond very promptly, as TMJ disorders can take years to develop, it may take some time for improvement.