& Second Opinions
You have two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) on each side of the jaw connecting the jawbone to your skull. They act like sliding hinges as your mouth opens. The sections of the bones connecting in the joint are encased with cartilage and separated with a small disk that absorbs shock and stabilizes the opening and closing of the jaw. TMJ disorders result in pain in the joints of your jaw and the muscles controlling jaw movement.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders generally include aching pain or tenderness in the jaw, near one or both joints, near the ears, in the face, or during chewing. TMJ disorders can cause joints to lock, hindering your ability to open or close your mouth. Those with this disorder also note a grating sensation or clicking sound when opening the mouth or chewing.
If the jaw clicks but doesn’t cause pain or impede movement, then it’s likely no treatment is needed. If you have chronic soreness or pain in the jaw or can’t open or shut it all the way, then you should contact us so we can diagnose the problem and provide treatment.
Pinning down a precise cause of TMJ disorders during diagnostics is not easy. The pain may come from more than one factor, including arthritis, genetics or injuries to the jaw. Sometimes people with jaw pain also have bruxism (the grinding or clenching of the teeth), but many people with bruxism never end up with a TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorders can develop if the shock-absorbing disk connected to the temporomandibular joints becomes eroded or moves out of position. The disorder also arises if the joints become damaged by forced trauma or by arthritis.
Jaw injuries, chronic teeth grinding, and various types of arthritis are factors that increase one’s chances of developing a TMJ disorder. Other factors include various diseases related to connective tissues in the temporomandibular joints.
When you come in for an examination, our dentists will check your jaw, listening and feeling for any abnormalities when you open and shut your mouth. We’ll also examine how much you can move your jaw and press down around it to pinpoint areas of discomfort or pain. Feel free to press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort yourself.
If our dentists find a problem, we may need to take X-rays of your jaw and teeth. Other options include a CT scan producing in-depth images of the bones in the joint or an MRI of the joint’s disk and adjacent soft tissue.
Most of the time, the discomfort and pain from TMJ disorder only lasts for some time and is manageable by way of self-care or nonsurgical means. Surgery is usually the last resort after conventional methods are shown not to work, but certain patients with TMJ disorder draw benefit from surgical treatments.
For more information, please contact our office at 817-678-7395.