Structural and functional disorders of the jaw joint nad the system are generally referred to as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. This may imply clicking sounds, grinding, locking and pain in the masticatory system and the jaw joint.
Disorders of the jaw joint nad the masticatory system are generally referred to as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. This may imply clicking sounds, grinding, locking and pain in the masticatory system and the jaw joint (myofascial pain).
These disorders can be divided into three categories:
- occlusopathy - relating to teeth and malocclusions
- myopathy - relating to the chewing muscles
- arthropathy - relating to the bony jaw joint and its structures, e.g. rheumatism, arthritis or the results of an accident.
About 10% of the entire population suffer from the disorders of the masticatory system. They have to be treated if pain and functional impairments occur. Women are more affected than men and younger people more than older patients.
Symptoms of a TMJ disorder may include:
- being unable to open the mouth completely
- dislocation of the jaw joint
- clicking sounds, grinding or rubbing when opening and closing the mouth
- radiating pain in the ears, throat, neck, cervical spine pain
- the teeth don’t fit together
Causes: The causes are mostly unclear and multi causal. They may include stress, urged orthodontic treatments, accidents, developmental disorders, inaccurate dentures, grinding, endocrine disorders, emotional strain.
Diagnoses: the disorders of the masticatory system can be detected via detailed conversations, instrumental and clinical function analysis in patients and on models, measuring and analysing the jaw joint, occlusal examinations. X-ray photographs and optionally 3D X-ray can help detect structural causes.
TMJ therapy: it is important to use reversible treatments, e.g. bite splints, pain medications, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), trigger point infiltrations, autogenic training, physical therapy and osteopathy.
In case of acute pain, water-filled bite pads, the so-called Aualizers, and optionally analgetics, can provide a relief.
Aqualizers should not be worn longer than 2-3 weeks. When acute symptoms have resolved, the dentist can take further steps such as functional analysis and preparing mouldings and bite splints.