TMJ assessment is an important part of any dental exam. Your TMJ joint, short for temporomandibular joint, is responsible for opening and closing your jaw. You have a left and right TMJ joint which work together to allow us to more our jaw. Unfortunately, your TMJ joint can get damaged over time due to wear-and-tear, especially if you’re applying excess pressure onto it. Problems with your TMJ joint can be responsible for headaches, stiffness and pain in the head and neck region.
Your TMJ assessment starts off by having you open, close and move your jaw side-to-side and outwards. We look for any pathway alterations during opening or closing as well as for abnormal noises, tenderness and limitations in opening. Alterations in pathways such as deviation or deflection and noises like clicking, popping and crepitus, are all early signs of disk derangement or arthritis in the joint. These signs indicate that you may require treatment or monitoring depending on your symptoms.
TMJ treatment can range from the use of medications, therapy, oral appliance to surgery. NSAIDS (such as Motrin), muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants are commonly used to help reduce inflammation in the TMJ joint. Therapy includes daily TMJ exercises, heat and cold application as well as counseling to eliminate destructive habits. Custom-made soft or hard nightguards are common oral appliances designed for overnight wear. By relieving the pressure on your TMJ joint they protect the joint, in addition to protecting teeth against grinding. If your TMJ symptoms don’t respond to these non-invasive treatments, then a more invasive approach needs to be taken. Invasive treatment ranges from Botox injections directly into the joint to TMJ arthoscopic surgery a other surgical procedures. Appropriate referrals will be made at this point to get you the best treatment possible.