Do you suffer from TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder? If so, you’re not alone. TMD, or Temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is located in the lower jawbone and allows patients to open and close their mouths. TMJ disorder is when the temporomandibular joint does not work properly.
TMJ is a common dental problem that can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw and neck. In some cases, it can even lead to other health problems, like headaches and difficulty speaking. Fortunately, several treatments can help reduce the pain and improve your quality of life.
The treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder can be complex and involve various therapies and surgeries. If you’re looking for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, Dr. Kevin Postol is one of the best TMJ experts who can help you get started. So, whether you’re looking for an online guide to the causes and symptoms of TMJ and the treatment options available, our blog is the perfect place to start your journey in finding the best TMJ treatment for you.
What Causes TMJ/TMD?
TMJ affects patients of all ages; however, women of childbearing years are the most affected. In many cases, the causes of TMJ disorders aren’t always clear or understood. Causes may include muscle weakness, stress or anxiety, teeth grinding, poor posture, braces, gum chewing, and inflammation. Other risk factors that will increase an individual’s chances of developing TMJ disorder are:
- Jaw injuries
- Different types of arthritis
- Certain connective tissue disease
- Neck strain
- Poorly positioned teeth
- Genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress response
Multiple factors can contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMD or if they are a direct result of the disorder itself.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of TMJ/TMD?
Although pain is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders, it affects patients differently. Common signs of a TMJ disorder include:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Pain in the temporomandibular joints
- Pain while chewing or difficulty moving the jaw while chewing
- Aching around the ears or in other areas of the face
- Swelling around the face
- Stiff joints or locking referred to as lockjaw
- Popping or clicking in the jaw joints
Many patients experience this popping or clicking in their jaw joints, but they don’t have any pain or difficulty opening and closing their mouths. In this case, you may not need TMJ treatment if you are willing to live with the clicking. Each patient is unique; therefore, the number, intensity and frequency of TMD symptoms can vary in each patient. However, if your symptoms are severe, it is vital that you schedule an appointment for an evaluation right away. Dr. Postol can identify the causes of your TMJ disorder and decide on the most appropriate treatment. There are many effective treatments available for TMJ, and a diagnosis can help you get started on the path to healing.
How Do We Diagnose TMJ/TMD?
There is no widely recognized method for diagnosing TMJ because the exact causes are unknown and it is often caused by a variety of factors. Typically, during your appointment, we will consider your symptoms and ask you a few simple questions about your medical history. Based on this information, we may perform a physical examination of your jaw. In some cases and if we suspect a problem, we may also recommend x-rays, so we can examine your jaw in more detail.
What Treatment Do We Offer for TMJ/TMD?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating TMJ, as the condition can be significantly affected by your individual circumstances and symptoms. We offer a broad range of TMJ treatments through various methods. Some of the most common treatments include oral appliances, medication, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy.
Oral or injection therapies such as corticosteroid therapy can effectively relieve TMJ symptoms. Sometimes, patients also benefit from botox injections into the jaw to prevent pain when chewing. Habits such as teeth grinding, biting your fingernails, and leaning on your chin can also lead to TMJ disorder. If this is the case, we may prescribe counseling to address any underlying issues that leads to this behavior.
You may require surgery if other therapies are not successful in relieving the symptoms. If this is the case, Dr. Postol will take you through your different options for surgical procedures. We often use arthroscopy as an alternative TMJ treatment to open-joint surgery as it is less invasive. During this procedure, we insert a small thin tube, known as a cannula, into the joint space, followed by an arthroscope, a small camera, to view the problem area to help determine a diagnosis. Although there are fewer risks involved than open-joint surgery, this treatment is limited, and in some cases, open-joint surgery is necessary. What is important to know is that TMJ can often worsen over time if left untreated, leading to reduced jaw mobility and even tooth loss.
When it comes to TMJ, there’s a lot that we still don’t know. However, we hope this blog helped you understand TMJ and the available treatment options.
At Kevin F. Postol, DDS, our caring dental team is highly trained, health-oriented, and experienced in all areas of dentistry. We aim to provide a reassuring atmosphere, excellent service and state-of-the-art dental techniques. As a recipient of the “Top Dentist” award every year since 2008, trust Dr. Postol and his team to provide the proper TMJ treatment to give you the relief you need.
Find out more by requesting an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his professional dental team today.