As in any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joint can show signs of degenerative changes over the years. The articular disc becomes increasingly deformed and the layer of cartilage over the joint surfaces becomes increasingly thin and eventually tears. The condylar bone substances and the articular eminence and fossa also degenerate. The bone becomes deformed.
The chance of developing osteoarthrosis of the temporomandibular joint is much lower in patients with a normal disc position (25%) than in patients with disc displacement with reduction (36%) or disc displacement without reduction (86%). Often the posterior attachment of the articular disc (known as the bilaminar zone) is perforated and the joint surfaces audibly grate against each other during movement - causing the typical crepitus sound of grinding or cracking in the temporomandibular joint.
If, in the course of this disease, TMJ pain occurs that is caused by inflammation of the synovial membrane, there is a range of effective conservative and surgical treatment options to treat temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis.