Most of the time when we talk about temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), we are talking about its many symptoms, such as jaw pain, headaches, ear pain, ringing in the ears, neck pain, and more. But there is another kind of TMJ that we have to be aware of: asymptomatic TMJ.
What Is Asymptomatic TMJ?
Asymptomatic TMJ is basically TMJ that doesn’t have any perceptible symptoms. You have disc displacement, disc destruction, and potentially even bone wear but without TMJ symptoms. In this type of TMJ, you might not be aware of the jaw joint problems and the destruction that is going on until extensive jaw damage has occurred. At that point, symptoms may appear and they may be very serious.
At that point, treatment options may also be very limited. We will no longer be able to offer a noninvasive treatment option: you may be left with only surgery as a treatment option. That’s why it’s important to be aware of asymptomatic TMJ and try to treat it early.
Who Is at Risk for Asymptomatic TMJ?
So, if there are no TMJ symptoms, how do you know to get yourself checked out for this type of TMJ? It’s true there’re no real symptoms, but there are risk factors you can be aware of:
- Malocclusion: teeth that don’t fit together comfortably
- Osteoarthritis in other joints
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Jaw trauma or whiplash due to car accident
In addition, you should watch for visible changes in your jaw position, either when open or closed. You should also be aware if you start developing larger jaw muscles on one side of the mouth than the other. You might also notice the shrinking or deformity of your jaw joint as the body responds to changing forces in the jaw by adjusting the bones necessary.
How Is Asymptomatic TMJ Diagnosed?
Without many of the important symptoms to guide us to a proper diagnosis of TMJ, we have to rely on imaging of the TMJ joint. MRI and CT scans are both used to detect asymptomatic TMJ.
Asymptomatic TMJ is not rare: perhaps a third of people without symptoms might still have TMJ. This means it’s important for everyone to consider the possibility before it’s too late.
If you would like to learn more about TMJ and TMJ treatment in Savannah, please call for an appointment at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry today.