The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull on either side of the head. Problems with the TMJ are fairly common due to the complexity of the surrounding musculature and nerves, as well as the amount of daily articulation and force the joint can endure. Furthermore, injury to the TMJ or any attached structures can disrupt optimal function, leading to uncomfortable and bothersome side effects. It is estimated that millions of people suffer from TMJ disorders. At the Fawcett Center for Dentistry, P.A. our experienced cosmetic dentist, Wayde Fawcett, DDS, offers effective treatment options that can help patients achieve comfort and restore proper TMJ function.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?
TMJ syndrome is typically characterized by a cycle of pain, muscle spasms, inflammation, and/or joint imbalance which can result in:
- Headaches and/or ear aches
- Difficulty chewing
- Problems opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking, popping or grinding sound in the joint
- Pain around the TMJ near the ear
- Facial pain
- Numbness in the arms and fingers
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, and/or back
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to get evaluated for TMJ disorder. Without treatment or enacting lifestyle changes that can provide relief, serious problems can develop, such as degeneration of the TMJ or permanent damage to the teeth.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
There can be many causes for the disruption of the TMJ system. When any aspect of the system is not functioning improperly, the interconnected bone, muscle, cartilage, and/or soft tissue can become affected. Root causes of TMJ disorder can include:
- Jaw misalignment
- Grinding and clenching of teeth
- Movement of the joint cushioning cartilage
- Persistent stress
- Trauma to the jaw or jaw joint
- Trauma to the muscles of the head and neck
- Overuse of the jaw joint
- Arthritis of the jaw joint
What to Expect During TMJ Treatment
The type of treatment Dr. Fawcett recommends will depend on the nature of your TMJ disorder and the symptoms you are experiencing. In order to properly diagnose your condition, Dr. Fawcett will utilize 3D scans or digital x-rays of your jaw, and perform a thorough physical evaluation. Once he has gained a comprehensive understanding of the complications that are occurring, he may recommend anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxing medications, or customized oral devices designed to align the jaw and reduce nighttime grinding. If your TMJ disorder is determined to be severe, Dr. Fawcett may be able to suggest an experienced physician who can provide more advanced methods of treatment.
If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, please contact the Fawcett Center for Dentistry today. Dr. Fawcett can evaluate your condition and discuss possible treatment options that can reduce the symptoms of this common affliction.