TMJ Disorder

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a group of problems related to your jaw joint. Symptoms can include pain or a “clicking sound” and occur when the joints in the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. The temporomandibular joint is each joint on the right and left side that connects your jaw to the skull. TMJ disorders can occasionally lead to more serious complications, and early detection is important.

Trouble With Your Jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for various reasons such as clenching or grinding your teeth, tightening the jaw muscles and stressing the joint. Injuries or disease can damage the joint, and could cause the disk of the jaw joint to slip out of position. Results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or having difficulty opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

If you answered yes multiple times, it is likely that you have a TMJ Disorder. Luckily, there is treatment and we can help you develop an individual treatment plan.

Treatment

There are many treatment options to improve the function of your jaw. Upon confirmed diagnosis of a TMJ disorder, we will determine the proper course of treatment for your individual needs. The goal of treatment is to relieve the muscle spasms and joint pain, which can be accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, or steroids injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation.

Effective self care methods include:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying ice and heat
  • Exercising your jaw
  • Practicing good posture

TMJ Surgery Overview

Stress management techniques may be recommended, as well as a plastic appliance known as a splint, or nightguard. The splint fits over your top or bottom teeth to hold your teeth apart to relax the muscles and reduce pain. A nightguard helps you stop clenching and/or grinding your teeth while sleeping and helps protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieving the pressure on parts of your jaw and can help reposition the disk.

What About Bite Correction or Surgery?

If your TMJ disorder has caused a shift in how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring can sometimes be needed, but only in severe cases. We don’t consider surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and nonreducible, has severe degeneration or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.

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