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What is TMJ Ankylosis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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TMJ ankylosis is the medical term given to the inability to move the temperomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ. There are two temperomandibular joints, with one located on each side of the lower jaw. Symptoms may include restricted jaw movement, impaired speech, and difficulty breathing or swelling. Common causes of TMJ ankylosis include a traumatic injury, natural disease processes or infections, and rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment for this condition almost always requires surgery to allow the affected joint to move again.

TMJ ankylosis does not typically cause any pain, although it can still be quite debilitating. Many people with this condition have a noticeable physical deformity. Birth injuries may lead to the development of this medical condition. This is particularly true when forceps are needed during the birth process. TMJ ankylosis may also be present as a congenital birth defect, although it may also develop at any point later in life.

In addition to birth defects or birth injuries, there are several potential causes of TMJ ankylosis. Some of these conditions may include a joint disorder known as rheumatoid arthritis or neck or skull fractures. In some cases, infections, including infections of the ears or facial joints, may lead to the development of TMJ ankylosis. Surgery on or around the affected joint may also be a contributing cause to the development of this condition.

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Potential complications involving TMJ ankylosis may include restricted movement of the jaw, leading to difficulty performing normal tasks such as eating or speaking. The mouth may not be able to open widely enough to allow for ease in chewing or speaking. Breathing through the mouth may also become difficult. It may become difficult to sleep while lying down, and snoring may become an issue. Emotional issues may develop as a result of physical malformations or other challenges brought about due to this disorder.

Dental issues may develop as a result of TMJ ankylosis. If the mouth does not open widely enough to brush the teeth properly, tooth decay is almost certain to occur. This could lead to tooth decay and mouth pain. There may also be reduced space in the mouth for incoming teeth, making misaligned teeth a possibility. Surgery is typically necessary to correct any structural damage to the joint before proper dental care can be obtained. Prescription medications and physical therapy are often needed for several months or years following surgery to prevent future complications from developing.

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