TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction is caused by problems with the TMJ joint, which behaves like a sliding hinge to connect the jawbone to the skull. A problem with the joint can lead to pain in the jaw joint and with the muscles that are responsible for the movement of the jaw. Some patients may begin to clench and grind their teeth at night, which can further aggravate the pain. While patients experience varying degrees of pain and symptoms associated with the condition, Cosmetic Dental Associates in Houston, TX has advanced expertise in treatment. Depending on the patient’s condition, they can customize the appropriate treatment plan to alleviate symptoms. Common symptoms are:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Facial pain
- Pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty and/or discomfort chewing
- Locking the jaw joint, making it difficult to open and close the mouth
- Clicking sound when opening the mouth or chewing
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There’s not always a clear cause for why a patient suffers from TMJ dysfunction, but there can be mechanical reasons. Since the TMJ joint acts as a hinge with sliding motions, the places where the bones of the joint interact are covered with cartilage. They are also separated by a shock-absorbing disc, which helps keep the movement smooth. However, TMJ dysfunction can occur if arthritis affects the cartilage, the disk erodes, the disk shifts out of alignment, or the joint is damaged due to trauma, such as a blow or forceful hit.
What to Expect
To determine if you have a TMJ disorder, your dentist will observe your jaw’s range of motion, listen to how your jaw sounds when you open and close your mouth, and feel your jaw in certain areas to locate painful or uncomfortable locations. X-rays are often used to get a clearer picture of what’s going on with the joint.
Depending on the severity of your case, your dentist may prescribe pain-relieving medications or muscle relaxants. If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night, the dentist may prescribe a muscle relaxant. In some cases, custom mouth guards are useful. In the more severe cases, needles may be needed to remove built-up fluid from the joint. Corticosteroids and BOTOX injections can also be administered to reduce symptoms. Surgery is rarely used for this condition.
When injections are used, it’s recommended that you eat soft foods for a few days afterward to put less stress on the jaw and further alleviate pain. Applying ice packs can also be helpful. Gentle jaw stretches and relaxation exercises can help increase the jaw’s range of motion for less stiffness and pain.
Plan Your Procedure
TMJ can be an extremely painful and debilitating disorder where it’s difficult to chew, open and close the jaw, and sleep. With numerous treatment options available, our office is here to help you with your particular case. Please give us a call today to set-up a consultation to see what we can do for you.