Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition that includes several problems related to the jaw joint. The symptoms happen when the joints of the jaw and chewing muscles do not work together correctly. Fortunately, these symptoms are easier to treat now than they were in the past. Untreated TMJ disorder can lead to more serious conditions. So, early detection and treatment are important.
TMJ disorder may occur for several reasons such as grinding teeth, tightening your jaw muscles (clenching), or stressing your temporomandibular joint. You can also have problems with your jaw due to an injury or disease. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the cushion of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
Signs That You May Be Suffering From TMJ Disorder:
Waking up with sore/stiff jaw muscles
Frequent headaches or neck aches
Jaw “clicks” or locks when opening mouth
Difficulty opening mouth, eating, or yawning
Previous head/neck/jaw injuries, or joint problems (such as arthritis)
Teeth that no longer touch when you bite, or meet differently from time to time
Teeth that are sensitive, loose, broken or worn
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can provide treatment for TMJ Disorder. If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an evaluation to confirm a diagnosis of TMJ Disorder. Your physician will determine a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
There are multiple treatment modalities including medication, such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. Self-care treatments are advocated as well, such as resting the jaw, eating soft foods, applying ice and heat, jaw exercises, good posture, and keeping the teeth apart when you’re not eating.
Night guards or TMJ splint treatments may be recommended as well. This can help prevent grinding and clenching when you sleep. A TMJ splint can help your jaw move forward and aid in disk repositioning.
What About Bite Correction
If TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together, treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work may be recommended. Certain surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes required, but are usually only considered for severe cases.