The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint found in the lower part of the mandible. It is responsible for chewing, talking, and swallowing. Muscles are attached to this joint to help control the movements of your jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is not spared from problems. This particular joint can have problems and this condition is called temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
How Does the Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Happen?
Dentists have difficulty finding the real cause of this particular disorder. Experts suggest that the problem is caused by muscles and joint problems. It can also arise from trauma received by the jaw such as a heavy blow.
Some dentists also indicate that people who constantly grind their teeth are at risk of developing a temporomandibular joint disorder. Other causes of this condition include misalignment of the jaw and infection.
How Do You Know If You Have TMJ?
A shooting pain in the jaw area is a sign of this particular joint disorder. However, the pain is not only localized on the jaw area, it can also radiate to the neck, ears, as well as shoulders. If you have a problem opening your mouth as wide as you can then it can be a sign of the disorder. Other symptoms include popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth as well as lockjaw. Some people may also experience swelling and inflammation in the jaw.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of the temporomandibular joint disorder can be challenging because it has a lot of symptoms that are also similar to other diseases such as a toothache or arthritis. The dentist needs to examine your jaw carefully and he or she will ask you to undergo a series of test to be able to make the right diagnosis. These include a physical examination as well as MRI or CT scan to detect the presence of the condition.