The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is the joint that attaches the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. This joint allows the mandible to open, close and move from side to side.
The temporomandibular joint stands out from the other joints in the body since it allows a rotational movement as well as translational one (antero-posterior within the joint itself). This interesting feature can also cause specific problems. The disc located between both separate parts of the joint can remain immobilized in an anterior position thus causing cracking and or locking. Unfortunately, these abnormalities can be quite painful.
At times the pain originates from facial muscles (myofascial pain). The application of warm damp compresses, massages, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants can relieve the symptoms.
The dentist is often the first to detect or to be confronted with a problem originating from the TMJ and from the masticatory muscles. He will attempt to eliminate factors often known to cause pain such as bruxism, chronic grinding or clenching of the teeth, chewing gum and nail biting (onychophagy). If these factors are properly understood by the patient and eliminated from their daily lives, the dentist will attempt occlusal relief therapy by making a nocturnal occlusal plate (apparatus). If no results ensue, a physiotherapy and maxillofacial surgeon consultation may be necessary. Your surgeon will judge if Botox injections in the masticatory muscles are required to decrease your parafunctions.
University Centers hosting a Dental Faculty, have Oral Medicine specialists who can help support these patients. Presently, as there are no Oral Medicine specialists in the Outaouais area, the maxillofacial specialists see these patients.