You may have temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder if the bone that connects your jaw to your skull, the temporomandibular joint, is damaged or injured. TMJ can result in a wide range of symptoms from the minor to the extreme, and each case requires a personalized approach from a dental professional.
Signs of TMJ Disorders
One of the first signs of a dislocation or injury to your joint is jaw locking or popping when you open and close your mouth. If you find yourself grinding your teeth or holding your jaw in a clenched position for long periods of time, this also could signify and issue.
Many of the symptoms of TMJ disorders may be most obvious when you first wake up in the morning, usually because you were grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw during your sleep. You may have a headache or feel overly tired. You could have a sore jaw or pain in the joint. Your ears also may be affected — you could have an earache, draining or ringing in your ears as a result of TMJ disorders.
What Causes the Condition?
In many cases, stress is a major contributing factor to TMJ. Stress can indirectly affect your temporomandibular joint by causing you to have poor posture, clench your teeth or move your mouth into an awkward position to chew on your gums or lips repeatedly.
Facial injuries also can cause trauma that results in this condition. Arthritis is occasionally also a cause, along with natural physiological misalignments that may have been present your whole life.
Medications and Therapeutic Treatments
To treat TMJ disorders, oral surgeons will first take X-rays and examine your neck, jaw and mouth area, looking for any physiological anomalies. They also may suggest having an MRI, or they might conduct a CT scan. They will gather more information about your condition, including any prior treatment information, related stress factors and other symptoms.
For mild and first-time cases, the team may suggest physical therapy to work on jaw movement and placement of the teeth and gums while chewing. Anti-inflammatory drugs also may be prescribed to reduce swelling and pain.
You may be outfitted with dental splints or another device designed to relax your jaw muscles, position your teeth correctly and help break any negative habits contributing to the condition.
If patients show no progress after these treatment methods have been exhausted, or their version of the disorder is extreme, surgery may be a viable option. Surgical procedures can range from a simple cleaning of the joint to a correction of a displacement to a complete replacement.
Anyone struggling with TMJ disorders would benefit from a consultation with Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery — our team will do a thorough examination and provide a personalized action plan for your treatment.