TMJ Pathologies: what are the most common and how to treat them?

The most common pathologies are myofascial syndrome affecting the maseterine, temporal and pterygoid musculature, temporomandibular joint dysfunction associated with acute or chronic meniscal block, mandibular subluxation and mandibular luxation. And in the later stages, signs of meniscal degeneration and bone degeneration.

What are the causes?

The main causes are bruxism or dental clenching, dental malocclusion, lateral deviations in oral opening, alterations in meniscal position, dentofacial deformities and mandibular or facial trauma. Less frequent are craniofacial syndromes or tumor pathology.

How can the pain of TMJ disorders be relieved?

There are different options:

  • Local heat.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Sometimes muscle relaxants, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs.

How do they affect daily routine and sleep?

In addition to pain, they can cause clicking when opening and closing the jaws, fatigue in chewing and speaking, muscle tension when waking up and at the end of the day and reduced oral opening.

When is it necessary to see a specialist?

It is necessary to see a specialist in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in those cases in which we see that the pain persists for more than 3-4 weeks without remitting. Also if there is a progressive decrease in oral opening, impossibility to close the mouth or clicking at the joint level.

What are the most appropriate treatments?

In the initial stages, conservative treatment consists of a soft diet, heat, physiotherapy and the use of an unloading splint, which resolves most of the symptoms. If the problem is more localized at the muscular level, infiltration with botulinum toxin may improve the picture.

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In advanced stages, more invasive therapies such as arthrocentesis or arthroscopy would be indicated, and in the final stages, open surgery on the joint or joint replacement with titanium prosthesis.