February 21, 2024

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Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

Temporomandibular joint disorders affect your jaw joints and surrounding muscles and ligaments. TMJ is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull that allows your jaw to open and close, allowing you to speak and eat. Trauma, an improper bite, and wear and tear are some causes of these conditions. You are most likely to get TMJ dysfunction between twenty and forty years, which is more common in women. Your problem can be acute or chronic, resulting in pain. Your Woodlands dentist treats TMJ disorders depending on symptoms and the severity of your condition.

Symptoms

Jaw pain, headaches, earaches, pain in the neck or shoulders, difficulty chewing, and tooth pain are symptoms you may experience when you have TMJ disorders. You also have problems opening your mouth wide, swelling on the side of your face, and clicking, or grating sounds in your jaw joint when opening or closing your mouth. Changes in how your teeth fit together and ringing in your ears are other common symptoms of TMJ conditions.

Diagnosis

Physical examination: Your dentist can observe the range of motion when you close or open your mouth. The dentist can press on your face and jaw to determine your areas of discomfort.

MRI scans: In some cases, your dentist can recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view soft tissues in and around your jaw joint. MRI images show the position of the disc, inflammation, and jaw locking. Your healthcare provider will tell if your TMJ is in good condition and functioning correctly.

CBCT scans: Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans capture various images of your teeth, jaws, facial bones, and sinuses. Your dentist will stitch these pictures together to get a detailed 3-D image. Dental CT scans give you a more detailed view of your facial anatomy.

Panoramic X-rays: Your specialist will use panoramic x-rays to get a broader overview of your teeth, jawbone, and TMJs.

Treatments

Medications: Your dentist can prescribe over-the-counter drugs to relieve pain. These medications include corticosteroids, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, local anesthetics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Therapies: In some cases, your specialist can recommend physical therapy. These therapies include heat, cooling, acupuncture, tissue mobilization, resistance exercises, and stretches. The treatment therapy your doctor uses will depend on the affected part. If your TMJ is caused by stress, talk therapy or stress management exercises can help improve your condition.

Wearing a splint or night guard: Splints and night guards are mouthpieces that fit over your upper or lower teeth. They provide stable tooth contacts during closure. Splints and night guards also correct your bite by placing your jaw in a more favorable position. You wear splints full time and night guards only at night.

Surgery: Your doctor can recommend surgery if your condition is severe or other treatment methods have not worked. The corrective dental procedure can improve your bite and align your teeth, while arthrocentesis removes fluid and debris from the joint. Sometimes your dentist can suggest surgery to replace your joint.

Although TMJ conditions arising from stress are temporary, you should seek immediate medical care if you experience jaw pain or difficulties opening your mouth. Schedule an appointment at Scott Young, DDS, for TMJ treatment to relieve your symptoms.