The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Those afflicted want relief. The good news is that relief is attainable through several tried-and-true therapies.
Symptoms of TMJ
This chronic disorder reports these main symptoms:
- Jaw clicking
- Chronic jaw ache
- Difficulty chewing
- Jaw locking
- Pain in and around the joint
What Triggers It?
Stress is a major culprit, along with several other factors:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Eating crunchie or chewy foods
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Changes in hormone levels
- Poor posture (brings tension to the jawbone and other facial structures).
The Role of Neuromuscular Dentistry
Neuromuscular Dentistry uses the relationship between the jaw muscles, jaw bones, nerves, and teeth to recreate the natural bite. CT scans find your optimal jaw position, after which the dentist realigns your bite, teeth, jaw, and facial joints using a special orthotic and tensing machine to gently relax your jaw muscles. The procedure is noninvasive and painless.
Your doctor or dentist will discuss your symptoms and examine your jaw. They will:
- Listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth
- Observe the range of motion in your jaw
- Press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort
- Takes dental X-rays to examine your teeth and jaw
- A CT scan or MRI may be ordered to accurately access areas of concern with the joint’s disk or surrounding soft tissue.
TMJ arthroscopy is sometimes used in the diagnosis. During TMJ arthroscopy, your doctor or dentist inserts a small thin tube (cannula) into the joint space along with a camera (arthroscope).
In some cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorders may go away without treatment. If your symptoms persist, your doctor or dentist may recommend a variety of treatment options.
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Muscle relaxants
- Oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances)
- Physical therapy
- Arthrocentesis. A minimally invasive procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts.
- Injections. Injecting corticosteroids or Botox is found to be helpful.
- TMJ arthroscopy. An alternative to open joint surgery is that has fewer risks and potential for complications.
- Modified condylotomy. Modified condylotomy addresses the TMJ indirectly, with surgery on the mandible.
- Open-joint surgery. Done to the jawbone if other treatments prove ineffective.
The Douglas Family Dentistry Experience
If you live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or the surrounding communities, Douglas Family Dentistry offers a friendly, professional environment for patients from kids to adults and seniors. Do you suspect you might have a TMJ issue? Call us at 480-948-3680 or go to our website to schedule an appointment and take your first step toward relief.