3 Main Types of TMJ

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called TMJ, cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles used in jaw movement. Dysfunction at the TMJ affects motions such as:

  • Chewing
  • Yawning
  • Smiling
  • Swallowing

What being diagnosed with a TMJ disorder means can vary from person to person. For example, some patients report severe jaw pain, while others report chronic neck and back pain. Even worse, (in many cases) some people suffering from TMJ are also diagnosed with TMJ-related sleep apnea, which can have life-threatening ramifications.

3 TMJ Categories

Researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that TMJ symptoms typically fall into three categories.

Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain refers to discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function. Symptoms of myofascial pain can include:

  • Lockjaw
  • Daytime clenching
  • Nocturnal grinding (bruxism)
  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck aches
  • Difficulty chewing

Derangement of the Joint

Displaced discs, dislocated jaws, or injury to condyles are responsible for many TMJ diagnosis. The symptoms typical of derangement of the joint-TMD are structural as opposed to muscular and include:

  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Malocclusion
  • Grating and popping noises

Degenerative Joint Disease

Overusing the temporomandibular joint and aging can lead to a natural progression of joint degeneration over time. Degeneration can lead to inflammatory joint disorders such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Perforated TMJ disc

What This Means for Patients

It's important to recognize the different variations of TMJ because this disorder isn't always expressed in the same way from person to person. Even patients whose TMJ symptoms are categorized the same don't always share the same experience. For some patients, pain can be tolerable or mild, while others experience severe pain.

Treating TMJ in Pittsburgh, PA

Effective TMJ treatment requires the recommendations from a neuromuscular dental professional. A multi-faceted approach is needed to account for the broad spectrum of symptoms TMJ can cause. Dr. Firouzi of the Center for Exceptional Dentistry specializes in TMJ and sleep apnea treatment making his office an excellent resource for those in need of relief. Call (412) 274-1126 today or visit our contact page here for more information.