What Is TMJ?

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. The TMJ acts as a hinge for the upper and lower jaw bones. It allows the jaws to close and open and perform its normal functions. Sometimes, the TMJ can be affected by disorders.

What Are The Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

Symptoms of TMJ disorder may include:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Clicking or popping sounds when the jaw opens and closes
  • Facial swelling on the sides of the face
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Headaches
  • Tooth grinding
  • Dislocation of the temporomandibular joint
  • Gum Pain
  • Neck Pain

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

There may be several reasons that cause TMJ disorders. Most of the time, there are multiple factors that can lead to the muscle tightness that characterizes TMJ disorders. Some causes may include:

  • Pain in the jaw – especially in the joint
  • Stress
  • Teeth grinding
  • Earache
  • Trauma to the teeth or jaw
  • Ringing sound in the ears
  • Tight or sore jaw and/or neck muscles
  • Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
  • Poor posture
  • Blurred vision
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Arthritis
  • Shoulder pain
  • Inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders

How Are TMJ Disorders Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a TMJ disorder, your dentist or doctor will ask you for your medical history. A physical exam is usually performed in order to understand the cause of the symptoms. In some cases, an MRI may be recommended of the TMJ in order to detect damage to the cartilage of the jaw joint and to rule out any other medical problems. A doctor may send you to a specialist such as a maxillofacial specialist, an otolaryngologist, or a facility that specializes in jaw disorders, such as Watson Dental Care. If you are experiencing jaw problems, contact our office at (407) 351-3213.

How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?

TMJ disorder can be treated both by home remedies and medical treatment.

Home remedy options include:

  • Ice packs placed on the jaw joint
  • Over the counter medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Motrin and Ibuprofen
  • Relaxation techniques to reduce stress
  • Maintaining a soft food diet
  • Stop chewing gum
  • Massage or gentle stretching of the jaw and neck muscles

Medical treatment is usually used when home remedies do not work. They include:

  • Dental splints may be applied to keep the teeth in alignment and prevent tooth grinding. These splints are usually prescribed and custom
  • fitted by a dentist specializing in the jaw
  • Pain medication prescribed by the dentist or doctor
  • Muscle relaxers prescribed by the dentist or doctor
  • Anti-inflammatory medications of prescription strength
  • Physical therapy which may include heat and ice treatments, exercises and stretches that are designed to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, and ultrasound.
  • Arthrocentesis may be suggested to help decrease swelling. Needles are inserted into the joint to allow fluid to flow through the joint and clear out any debris or inflammatory byproducts
  • Injections may be another recommended option before turning to surgery. Injections may include Botox to help relieve pain that is associated with TMJ disorders
  • Surgery is usually the final and last resort for people suffering from TMJ disorders. This is suggested when there appears to be a structural problem with the joint. The joint is either repaired or replaced.