TMJ Disorders

When you chew and speak, your lower jaw moves to open and close your mouth. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the name of the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and allows for this hinge-like movement.

TMJ disorders are a family of problems related to your jaw. Symptoms such as pain or clicking occur when the joints of your jaw and your muscles do not correctly work together. TMJ problems can lead to other complications over time, so early detection and treatment are important.

At AOMS, our doctors can help diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. An evaluation helps us identify a TMJ disorder and determine the best treatment plan for your needs. If you think you might have a TMJ disorder, it’s important to seek professional care.

Here’s what you should know about troubles with your TMJ.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

A TMJ disorder can be caused by any number of reasons, including clenching or grinding your teeth, damage or trauma to your jaw or joint, arthritis, stress, or an improper bite.

Not everyone with these risk factors will develop a TMJ disorder, but if you do have problems with your jaw they can help your oral surgeon understand the root cause.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The symptoms of TMJ disorder include a wide range of pain and discomfort in the jaw and surrounding areas of your face and neck. The more of these symptoms you have, the more likely you are to have a TMJ disorder.
Waking up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaw
Frequent headaches or neck aches
Pain in your jaw that gets worse when you clench your teeth
Tooth clenching and pain that gets worse when you feel stressed
Clicking, popping, grating, catching, or locking when you open your mouth
Pain when opening your mouth to eat or yawn
Teeth that no longer touch when you bite
Teeth that meet differently from time to time
Difficulty to use your front teeth to bite or tear food
Sensitive, loose, broken, or worn teeth

Treatment for TMJ Disorders

There are many treatment options for TMJ disorders. Once your doctor confirms a TMJ disorder, they will work with you to create your treatment plan. Treatment for jaw issues are always more effective when you combine self-care with professional care.

Our initial goal is to relieve any muscle spasms and joint pain. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxants can effectively ease these symptoms. Steroids can also be injected into the joint to reduce pain and inflammation.

Self-care treatments include resting your jaw, keeping your jaw apart (avoiding grinding and clenching), eating soft foods, applying ice and heat, and practicing good posture.

Other recommendations include stress management techniques such as biofeedback and physical therapy, or oral appliances such as a night-guard or anterior positioning appliance.

More severe cases of TMJ disorder might require a bite adjustment, orthodontics, jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Our specialists do not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw cannot open or is dislocated, there is severe degeneration, or appliance treatment has been unsuccessful.