If you experience pain in your neck as well as jaw area, hear clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth, or have a limited range of activity in your jaw, you could be handling a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problem. Disorders of the TMJ are believed to affect up to 10 million individuals in the USA, alone. While making use of a night guard for TMJ treatment prevails, it is prudent to explore your alternatives.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When there are problems with the muscles and jaw in the face then a temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMD, may be the problem.

What are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorder are problems that influence the TMJ specifically. Medical professionals may identify TMJ conditions based upon a range of symptoms, including relentless discomfort around the jaw as well as limited jaw movement.

Within a short period, most cases of TMJ disorders will resolve themselves, usually within a couple of months. However, in some cases TMJ disorder may be ongoing or reoccur.

Some top causes include:

  • Physical injury
  • Arthritis
  • Grinding the teeth
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Dental surgery
  • Infections

Genetic, hormonal, or environmental issues can be other causes of TMJ disorder.

Signs & Symptoms

TMJ disorders can be hard to diagnosis on your own because one or all of these symptoms can also be present for other problems. Being that there are so many signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder, your dentist should be the one to make a proper diagnosis.

Most common symptoms of TMJ disorders include but are not limited to:

  • Jaw, ear, or face pain
  • Migraines
  • Eye pressure
  • Locked jaw
  • Sensitivity in jaw muscles
  • Face swelling

Treatment

In some cases, TMJ problems will resolve on their own without treatment, but if the problem lingers, your dentist might advise a selection of treatment choices, typically trying multiple treatments together until finding a solution.

  • Mouth guards
  • Physical therapy.
  • Counseling

Your dentist might recommend other procedures if the techniques above don’t help. These procedures may include:

  • Arthrocentesis – This invasive procedure involves inserting needles into the joint to remove debris and inflammation so that fluid can bring water through the joint.
  • Injections – If you’re in need of relief from the pain that comes along with TMJ disorders, your dentist may inject botulinum into the jaw muscles.
  • Open-Joint Surgery – If the TMD appears to be caused by a structural problem, Arthrotomy may be suggested by your doctor to repair or replace the joint.

The above treatments are usually only considered after all non-invasive treatments have been tried.

These tips can help you reduce symptoms of TMJ disorders:

  • Don’t overuse the jaw muscles.
  • Eat soft foods.
  • Steer clear of gum.
  • Ask your doctor or dentist to show you how to massage your muscles and which exercises will help stretch and strengthen your jaw.
  • Apply hot or cold compresses to the jaw to help reduce pain.

Always be sure to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your dentist or doctor. Need more information about TMJ disorders today? Contact the office of Larry D. Molenda, D.D.S., a San Marcos dentist with years of experience working with patients of all ages.

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