TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a group of problems associated with your complex jaw joint. For those who have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be happy to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated compared to how it used to be. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) fail to work together correctly. TMJ means temporomandibular joint, there are two joints (right and left) that connect your jaw to your skull. Since some kinds of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.
No treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely, and treatment needs time to work effectively. Dr. Hussainy can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.
Trouble With Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for a lot of reasons. You may clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stress your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear muscle ligaments. Consequently, the disk, which is made from cartilage and works as the “cushion” from the jaw joint, can slip from position. Regardless of the cause, the results can include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
Do you have a TMJ Disorder?
- Have you been grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws? Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain sensation get worse whenever you clench your teeth? Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock whenever you open your mouth? Is it difficult or painful to spread out your mouth, eat, or yawn? Maybe you have injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Perhaps you have had problems (such as arthritis) along with other joints? Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Could it be hard to make use of your front teeth to bite or tear food? Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
The more you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will even assist you to understand how they are treated.
There are numerous treatments that the doctor can utilize to improve the harmony and function of the jaw. Once an assessment confirms an analysis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Hussainy determines the correct course of treatment. You should note that treatment is most effective with a team approach of your own care joined with professional care.
The first goals will be to relieve muscle spasm and pain. Normally, this is accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids could be injected directly into the joints to lessen pain and inflammation. Selfcare treatment is often effective too and can include:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing healthy posture
Stress management techniques including biofeedback or physical rehabilitation may also be recommended. A clear plastic appliance referred to as a splint may be recommended. A splint (or nightguard) fits over your bottom or top teeth helping keep the teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are various kinds of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension during the night helping to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relives pressure on areas of your jaw and helps with disk repositioning. It may be worn 24 hours/day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic stabilization appliance is worn 24 hours/day or just during the night to maneuver your jaw into proper position. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.
What about Bite Correction Or Surgery?
If your TMJ disorder is responsible for issues with how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment like bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics without or with jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are occasionally needed, but they are reserved for severe cases. Dr. Hussainy does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated, and nonreducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.