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The Facts Behind TMJ Disorder

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At any given time, anywhere between five and twelve percent of the population is affected by temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ disorder). This is an inflammation of the one or both of the joints connecting the jawbone to the skull. It is characterized by “popping” or “clicking” sounds when opening and closing the mouth, and may or may not be painful.

The exact causes of TMJ disorder are not clearly known. The condition is often accompanied by bruxism (grinding the teeth while sleeping), but scientists are unsure which is the cause and which is the symptom. Many people incorrectly associate TMJ disorder with ear pain, since the TMJ itself is located directly in front of the ear. As a result, many sufferers mistakenly see an audiologist before a neuromuscular specialist.

Typical treatment for TMJ disorder is simple
, consisting mainly of exercises and relaxation techniques, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs for severe pain. Standard TMJ exercises may consist of gentle isometric stretching of the TMJ across all axes (up/down, side/side, and forward/back), usually using nothing more elaborate than a finger on one hand.

Surgical intervention is exceedingly rare, and recommended only in a small percentage of the most extreme cases. In these cases, TMJ surgery can consist of simple irrigation of the joint (arthrocentesis) to remove any irritants or fluid build-up, or increasingly complex measures all the way up to joint replacement.

TMJ disorder can be a frustrating and embarrassing condition, but is far more inconvenient than dangerous. The overwhelming majority of TMJ disorder cases resolve themselves over time, with symptoms gradually decreasing and disappearing altogether. However, if your condition persists, your doctor can recommend treatment options. For more, read this link:

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