What Is TMJ?
TMJ refers to the pain or dislocation of one or both of the joints that hinge the upper jaw and the lower jaw. TMJ disorders cause pain in the jaw joints and the muscles that control them.
Symptoms of TMJ
Not every person with a TMJ disorder will experience the same symptoms, although these are some of the more common ones:
- A clicking or grating feeling and sound when you open your mouth wide or chew
- Pain or limitation of jaw movement, preventing it from fully functioning
- Tenderness and pain in the jaw area
- Specific pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
- General aching facial pain
- Difficulty chewing, pain when chewing, or stiffness when using your jaw repeatedly, such as chewing gum or playing a musical instrument
If you experience several of these symptoms, a consultation with one of our top TMJ pain specialists can help determine the right course of treatment.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorders have several different causes, and often, specialists can’t pinpoint the specific cause of the disorder. Some people have a genetic predisposition to improperly aligned joints or weaker jaw muscles, while others may have their jaw knocked out of alignment in a sporting or car accident. Habitual clenching your teeth or grinding your teeth in your sleep may lead to TMJ disorders, as can arthritis, although others with these habits or arthritis may never develop TMJ complications.
Common TMJ Treatment
Many patients find relief from TMJ pain and a reduction of symptoms with non-invasive treatments. Certain repetitive behaviors and actions may exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ, such as chewing gum, eating certain foods, or playing a musical instrument. In these cases, ceasing or reducing the activities may help with TMJ pain. For those who reflexively grind their teeth while sleeping, a mouth guard may be beneficial. Taking anti-inflammatory medications and light pain killers may also bring relief.
However, there are some cases of severe TMJ that require more aggressive treatment. Your TMJ specialist may recommend X-rays or MRI scans to determine the condition of the jaw joints and the muscles surrounding them. If there is significant damage to the jaw and area around it, a consultation with a surgeon or corticosteroid injections to help reduce the inflammation may be advisable.
Each case is different, and your TMJ specialist will help guide you through symptom treatment options.
Did you know…
that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD fails to seek treatment.
A woman experiencing TMJ-related discomfort as she touches her jaw area.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me?
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. You dentist will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments, such as self-care, physical therapy and bite guards. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for surgery or joint injections.
What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ
TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You’ll probably be asked to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help facilitate rehabilitation in your jaw. For example, you may be asked to avoid sudden jaw movements, such as yelling or yawning. You may also need to begin sleeping on your back and take steps to reduce your stress levels.
Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?
Your post-treatment care instructions will vary according to the type of treatment you receive. If you undergo an aggressive treatment, such as surgery, you may be temporarily subject to an all-liquid diet. You’ll also need to apply ice to the face to minimize swelling and also keep the surgical site clean and dry.
Book Your Dentistry Services Today!
In addition to targeted treatment options for TMJ, Dental Beauty offers comprehensive dental dentistry services. Our state-of-the-art offices are welcoming and comfortable, and we employ the latest tools and techniques in dentistry, often without referring you to a specialist. Reach out to us to book your TMJ consultation or any other dental service today!