The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “jaw joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. This pain can be sharp in the joint area or it may feel like an earache. It may be persistent and often severe headaches result. People with TMJ may also experience muscle spasms in the neck, back or shoulders. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.
We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue, which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth. Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ.
For more serious cases of TMJ, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, an appliance can be made to wear over the teeth that will allow the muscles to relax and reduce the symptoms including teeth grinding. This appliance will help alleviate discomfort and redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.