According to the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, TMJ rarely has a single cause, and usually involves more than one symptom. Although TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) can have mechanical causes, the most common problem associated with this problem is myofascial pain disorder. This is a neuromuscular problem that affects the chewing muscles, resulting in symptoms such as:
- Dull, aching pain in and around the year – might spread to the head or neck
- Tender jaw muscles
- Clicking or popping noises from jaw
- Difficulty opening/closing the mouth
These symptoms are made worse by simply chewing, yawning, or talking for a long time. In the event that bacteria or other microorganisms infect the joint, a rare condition known as Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) infection may occur. This can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the jaw area, as well as difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and even fever in severe cases.
What is TMJ infection?
TMJ infection is a condition that occurs when bacteria or other harmful microorganisms invade the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and cause inflammation or infection. Though it’s rare, it can be a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to more serious health problems. Additionally, TMJ infection can cause damage to the joint, leading to long-term complications such as chronic pain and difficulty opening and closing the mouth.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) infection is a rare condition that can occur when bacteria, viruses, or fungi infect the tissues surrounding the TMJ, including the muscles, ligaments, and cartilage. The infection can occur due to various reasons, such as trauma to the joint, surgery, or a weakened immune system. In some cases, the infection may spread to the bone and other nearby tissues, leading to more serious complications.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of TMJ infection can vary depending on the severity and location of the infection, but they may include:
- Pain and tenderness around the jaw joint
- Swelling and inflammation in the jaw and face
- Limited movement of the jaw
- Ear pain
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Pus or discharge from the infected area
If left untreated, TMJ infection can lead to more serious complications, such as bone and joint damage, abscesses, and even sepsis, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms or suspect that you may have a TMJ infection.
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the infection from spreading and causing further complications. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ infection, it is recommended to seek medical attention from a dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
TMJ infections can be diagnosed by a dentist or oral surgeon through a physical examination and medical history review. During the examination, the dentist may look for signs of swelling, redness, and tenderness in the jaw and surrounding areas. They may also perform imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, to check for signs of infection, bone damage, or abscesses.
Following your diagnosis, your dentist or doctor can recommend various interventions, including natural remedies for TMJ to manage the symptoms, including:
- Antibiotics: Prescribed to treat the underlying bacterial infection. The course of treatment usually lasts for 7 to 14 days.
- Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage the pain associated with TMJ infections.
- Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress to the affected area can help alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Good oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly, as well as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash, can help prevent TMJ infections and promote healing.
- Resting the jaw: Avoiding excessive talking, chewing, or any other activities that involve moving the jaw can help reduce the strain on the affected area.
Recovery time for TMJ infections can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the effectiveness of treatment. Most people start to feel better within a week or two of starting treatment, but it can take several weeks for the infection to completely clear up. To promote a speedy recovery, it’s important to follow the prescribed treatment plan, get plenty of rest, and eat a healthy diet.