A temporomandibular joint, often abbreviated TMJ, is a jaw joint. TMJ dysfunction is not a specific, well-defined problem. Instead, as the name implies, it encompasses many potential injuries, diseases, and other problems that prevent the joint from functioning properly. Facial trauma, bruxism (grinding teeth), and degenerative diseases such as arthritis are among the most common causes.
You might expect a problem with this joint to cause jaw pain or possibly difficulty chewing. While these are possible and common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, there are many other potential effects, which you may never expect. In addition to bones, muscles, and ligaments, the jaw involves several nerves. Damage, strain, or other malfunction of the joint can result in referred pain, in which the symptoms manifest in a different area than they originate.
TMJ dysfunction is known for being diagnostically challenging, because there is a vast array of potential symptoms, and they manifest a little differently in each patient. The symptoms may be felt on one or both sides of the face. The most common signs include:
Historically, TMJ dysfunction suffers have endured misdiagnosis, or no diagnosis at all. Some have even been accused of hypochondria, because no physical cause for their symptoms could be found. Today, this condition is much better understood, and it is typically treated by trained dental professionals rather than general practitioners. Due to their knowledge of the oral cavity and supporting structures, dentists have the ideal background for treating this condition. If you suspect that you may have this condition, call us at (903) 708-6116 and schedule an appointment today.