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Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the nerves linked to chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder.

The Temporo Mandibular Joints are among the most complex joints in the body. Multiple muscles acting through these joints, permit the mandible to move in relation to the upper jaw. The functions being -up and down movement, side to side movement seen during chewing, and forward and back movement. When all the components namely the bony joints, the mandible and the muscular pull is correctly aligned, smooth actions of the mandible can take place. These include chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing. When these structures (muscles, ligaments, disk, jaw bone, temporal bone) are not aligned they don’t move well together. This may cause several deformities and problems to occur.

    The following are the most common symptoms of TMD:
  • Headaches specially in the temple region
  • Pain spreading behind the eyes, in the face, shoulder, neck, or back
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw, inability to grind and chew
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

TMD is a recurring, but may be a self-limiting condition that usually tends not to be progressive. Non-invasive, conservative treatments have found to be effective. Physiotherapy treatment along with the use of custom splints is very effective in relieving and managing TMD, even when the symptoms are long-standing and severe. With appropriate physiotherapy most patients will see a significant improvement in their symptoms within 3 to 6 weeks.

What will happen if TMJ disorder is not treated?
TMJ isn’t life threatening, but if it’s not treated, it can cause pretty persistent discomfort and tension in and around your jaw. It’s also possible that the affected joints could become inflamed, and there may even be damage to your teeth.

How are disorders of TM joint diagnosed?
Disorders of the TMJ are usually diagnosed clinically through an examination by an expert like Dr. Mohan Thomas. This is then confirmed by an MRI scan. In special cases an arthroscopy (minimal access examination) of the joint can be undertaken by Dr. Thomas who is considered an expert in treating such cases all over the world.

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