Or TemporoMandibular Joint disorders are characterized by jaw pain, discomfort and/or dysfunction. With TMJ, the source of the problem can vary greatly. We are experts in finding the causes and providing effective solutions. In some cases, patients will first go to their family physician instead of their dentist to find answers about their jaw pain. Whoever the patient decides to go to first, they will perform the following exam:
- Listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth
- Observe the range of motion in your jaw
- Press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort
If we or your doctors suspect problems with your teeth, you may need x-rays. A CT scan can also provide important images of your bones that are involved with the painful joints and MRI's can reveal issues with joint disks.
There are cases of TMJ where the symptoms simply go away and no treatment is needed. In other where your symptoms persist, there are many forms of treatment.
In conjunction with other nonsurgical treatments, medications that may help relieve the pain associated with TMJ disorders may include:
If over-the-counter pain medications aren't enough to relieve TMJ pain, your doctor or dentist may prescribe stronger pain relievers.
These types of drugs are sometimes used for a few days or weeks to help relieve pain caused by TMJ disorders.
If nighttime teeth clenching is aggravating your pain, you may be prescribed a sedative such as clonazepam (Klonopin).
Non-medicated treatments for TMJ disorder include:
Often, people with jaw pain will benefit from wearing a soft or firm device inserted over their teeth, but reasons why these devices are beneficial are not yet fully understood.
Treatments might include ultrasound, moist heat and ice — along with exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles.
Education and counseling can help you understand the factors and behaviors that may aggravate your pain, so you can avoid them. Examples include teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on your chin, or biting fingernails.
There are also surgical procedures to improve TMJ disorder, but those are best discussed in the office after all other options have been exhausted.