What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint, is the joint responsible for opening and closing your jaws. We all have a left TMJ and right TMJ which work together to allow us to move our jaws. Unfortunately, trauma or wear-and-tear can damage our temporomandibular joints. TMJ problems can lead to migraine headaches, jaw stiffness and head and neck pain. People who grind their teeth or those who are missing multiple teeth, are particularly susceptible to TMJ problems.
What is a TMJ assessment?
A TMJ assessment is an important part of any dental exam. We evaluate your TMJ by having you open, close and move your jaw side-to-side and outwards. As you’re moving your jaw, we look for any pathway alteration during opening or closing. Additionally, we keep an eye out for abnormal noises, tenderness and limitations in opening. Alterations in TMJ pathway opening, known as deviation or deflection, and noises, known as clicking, popping and crepitus, could be early signs of disk derangement or arthritis. Your TMJ assessment will determine if you require treatment for your TMJ joints.
How do you treat TMJ problems?
There are several different treatments for TMJ abnormalities. These include using medication, physical therapy, oral appliances or even surgery for the worse cases. Here are some common treatments which you might come across:
- Medication: Drugs including NSAIDS (such as Motrin), muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants reduce inflammation of the TMJ joint and can be helpful.
- Physical therapy: TMJ exercises, heat and cold application and counseling can be used to eliminate sources of destructive habits.
- Nightguards: You may have to wear a custom nightguard to protect your TMJ from nighttime grinding. Wearing a nightguard helps relieve the pressure to protect your joints against grinding.
- Invasive Treatments: These can range anywhere from using Botox injection to arthoscopic surgery. We will make appropriate referrals to specialists so that you can get the best care possible.
What should I do if I have TMJ problems?
If you are experiencing TMJ pain or discomfort, give us a call today. You can reach us at (949) 481-2540 or book a consultation online. We will assess your TMJ to look for signs and symptoms of joint pain or arthritis. If you are diagnosed with TMJ disease, we will recommend appropriate treatment or make referral when needed.