Advancements in Diagnosing Jaw Disorders

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Painful jaw disorder, also known as temporomandibular jaw disorder, affects temporomandibular joint and its surrounding muscles. Almost 10 million Americans are affected with this disease presently. It is found more in women than man. Also, it affects the patient mainly with the age 20-40 years.

Clinical features of jaw disorder include:

  1. Pain and tenderness on face and neck particularly in jaw joint area.
  2. Stiffness of jaw muscles.
  3. Jaws get locked or stucked in open or close jaw positions.
  4. Limited movement of jaw.
  5. Tired face.
  6. Clicking sound of the TMJ while opening of the jaw.

Cause of painful jaw disorder is still unknown. Previously, it was thought to be due to improper teeth position in the jaws. Later it was found that it has no association with Jaw positions or teeth mal-alignment. The susceptibility of the individuals toward jaw disorder is partly genetic.

Since the reason of the condition is unclear, it is very difficult to diagnose and treat the condition effectively. Still the dental practitioners rely upon the conventional methods of diagnosing the condition such as palpation, auscultation and jaw movement evaluation. 

Along with the advancements in other medicine fields, dental imaging techniques for diagnosing and treatment planning are also advancing. With the increased use of higher technologies such as CBCT, MRIs, EMG and joint vibration analysis, the process of diagnosis has become easier. But since these techniques make the use of electronic sensors, they may lead to over diagnosis.

In recent times, a number of studies have been conducted about treatment of the disorder. It was found that aggressive treatments are less advocated. Instead of that the studies concluded a more conservative treatment approach. As per the requirement of the case, treatment modalities should be a balanced mix of medications, physical therapy, behavior modification, appliance wear, injections and sleep.

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