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TMJ-Myth vs Fact

A joint that rarely gets the spotlight, but does most of the crucial work for us is the Temporomandibular Joint. It allows us to open our jaw and perform tasks like speaking, eating, breathing, yawning and the list goes on! TMJ disorders can cause headaches, pain in jaw joint, shoulder ache, dizziness, earache. TMJ treatment options are vast and if you believe you might be a victim of this debilitating condition or recently have started showing some symptoms, visit a TMJ specialist at the earliest.

With so many symptoms and treatments related to TMJD, it is obvious that there will be speculations and myths floating around. Allow us to separate fact from fiction and clear some long-standing doubts surrounding TMD.

Myth 1

TMJ is a medical condition

Fact: TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. The soreness and pain you feel in your jaw muscles, face, neck and back is known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Everyone has a TMJ, not everyone is suffering from TMD.

Myth 2

TMD happens only after an accident

Fact: Whiplash, car accidents and injury to the face during a fight are pretty common causes of TMJD. However, they are not the only reasons why people report TMD cases. Misaligned jaw line (when the upper and lower jaw do not meet when the mouth is closed), bruxism (clenching and grinding of teeth), arthritis in the TMJ, trauma and stress are valid and prevalent causes of TMD cases.

Myth 3

Once the jaw popping stops, your TMD is cure

Fact: Yes, jaw popping noises and jaw clicking are common symptoms of TMJD, but they are not the only symptoms. Just because one symptom seems to have disappeared, does not mean you’re cured of TMD. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person and it is normal for two TMD patients to not experience the same symptoms.

Other symptoms include Facial Pain, pain in jaw muscle, soreness, headaches, dizziness, migraines, neck ache, ear ache, back ache, tinnitus which are equally serious. This is why you must consult with a TMJ specialist irrespective of the jaw clicks happening or not.

Myth 4

Surgery is the only way out

Fact: Forget being the only way, surgery should be the last resort, that too when the condition has reached advanced stages. The treatment option has to be case specific and best suited for the patients need.  There are different options depending on the case severity. Options include:

  • Injections for pain relief
  • Pain killers, muscle relaxants and anti inflammatories
  • Splints for teeth, Mouth guards and orthotics
  • Jaw strengthening and stretching exercise
  • Life style and home remedies
  • Hot and cold compression
  • Counseling

Surgery should be avoided unless it’s a jaw defect at birth that needs to be surgically corrected.

Myth 5

My frequent headaches have nothing to do with TMD

Fact: Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMD cases. The TMJ muscles tense up and the stress and pain spreads to the cheek muscles and head. Not only headaches, but your neck ache, shoulder and back pain and earache too has its source from TMD.

Myth 6

TMD is rare

Fact: TMD is more prevalent and common than one would like to believe. This is mostly due to lack of knowledge about the TMJ joint and people confusing TMJD to be a nerve related problem. According to several studies conducted all over India, a whopping 52% of the population suffers from some form of TMD, the symptoms ranging from mild to moderate in most cases.

While TMD doesn’t discriminate amongst its sufferers, it is seen that women and adults from the age of 20-50 are at highest risk.  The reason why women are more prone to developing TMD is difference is level of hormones. Fluctuations in the level of estrogen and progesterone, especially during childbirth puts women at a higher risk of developing TMJD.

Myth 7

TMD is not a serious condition

Fact: It is true that death due to TMD is rare, however pain in jaw joint can affect other parts of the body causing severe distress and inability to perform daily tasks. Chronic jaw misalignment may lead to

  • Sleep problems due obstructed airways
  • Pain in jaw and teeth
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Jaw clenching and tooth grinding
  • Difficulty in eating leading to poor nutritional intake
  • Weakened immunity
  • Poor posture
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lethargy and obesity

Myth 8

TMD is permanent and incurable

Fact: Contrary to what you might have heard, TMD is curable as long as you take the first step towards wanting to cure it permanently. Your TMJ doctor will examine your TMD symptoms thoroughly and suggest you a treatment plans best suited to your situation.

Myth 9

Clinical assessment is enough to diagnose TMD

Fact: History taking and clinical examination is rarely enough to diagnose TMD. Clinical assessment does not always corelate to TMJ internal derangement. Though physical examination can identify a TMD patient, it cannot state with complete certainty the cause and severity of the condition. CBCT of the TMJ and Airways and Polysomnography or Sleep Study substantiate clinical claims of TMD with real fact and figures.   Measured data present facts that are bias and error free.

Myth 10

Conservation TMD treatment is sufficient to cure TMD

Fact: Conservation care such as painkillers, therapy, massages, exercises and dietary changes only manage the symptoms and pain but does not resolve the underlying problem. While some patients are okay with simply relieving their pain for the short term, it is important to note that the medicines might have negative side effects after prolonged consumption. Anyone looking for a permanent cure will choose a more definitive and corrective treatment option, one that offers long term success and minimum side effects.

How do I find a TMJ specialist near me?

If you suspect to have TMD, leave nothing to chance. For more information on TMD symptoms and TMD treatment options you can schedule an appointment with our TMJ and Sleep Medicine specialist for a TMD consultation at Dental World.

 

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Dr. Krittika Butta

Dr. Krittika Butta

TMJ & Sleep Medicine Prosthodontist, Certified Implantologist (Sweden), Certified Smile Design Specialist(New York) (FICCMO) Specialist

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