Jaw Joint Disorder
Jaw joint problems are common and can affect up to 50% of the population at some time in their life. Symptoms may come from the jaw joint or from the surrounding structures such as muscles or it may be a combination of both.
There are many aspects of the jaw joints that are unique, such as the fact that there are a pair of joints and their movement is limited by the teeth. Over the years there have been many different names given to syndromes causing symptoms in this region.
The causes of jaw joint disorders are numerous and many are not fully understood. It is known that during times of stress people may clench their teeth and this may cause symptoms in this region. Some people “grind” their teeth and this may cause problems. Pathology affecting any of the tissues of this region may give rise to symptoms, trauma likewise may cause symptoms but often the cause remains obscure. Occasionally there may be a serious underlying problem which may be causing the symptoms and investigations may need to be taken to attempt to rule this out.
The jaw joints or temporomandibular joints (TMJ’S) as they are known may be the only joints affected or someone may be suffering from diseases affecting multiple joints. Many conditions affect the jaw joints and your surgeon will take a thorough history and conduct an examination of the area and may order investigations in an attempt to diagnose the problem.
Therapy if appropriate may take many forms and may include jaw exercises, physiotherapy or sometimes more invasive treatments. Referral to other specialists may be undertaken if appropriate. Sometimes the symptoms are resistant to treatment and provided that serious causes have been excluded then strategies to reduce the impact of the symptoms on the activities of daily living are employed.