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TMJ Disorders – Diagnosis and Treatment

by Maria Berg

Jaw Pain or Facial Pain or difficulty chewing?

Wait, A few more! Clicking sound from your jaw or continuous headache or sore jaw muscle?

These all can be the indicating signs of TMJ disorders (TMD). Most of us take these symptoms lightly and leave this condition untreated.

TMJ Disorders - Diagnosis and Treatment

Well, this can be your BIGGEST MISTAKE because it will progressively get worse. Over a few days, your jaw muscle can start radiating pain to other areas near the jaw, such as your shoulders, neck, and head, and pain can become more intense as different muscles are forced to compensate.

Not just this, TMD can lead to more complications that can adversely affect your health. The jaw joint is close to the ears, so poorly functioning TMJ can result in earaches or ear infections. Chewing and eating will become even more painful.

I think this is more than enough for you to understand that TMD needs to be treated. So, let’s understand TMJ disorders, their symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is TMJ disorder?

The TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) is the ball and the socket hinge located on the back of the jaw joint (on both sides of your head in front of your ears). This helps connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. It helps your jaw to open and close, letting you eat and speak. An individual suffering from TMJ disorder can feel the pain in jaw movement control muscles and the jaw joint.

Not enough? Ok. Let’s understand it better by knowing its typical symptoms.

What are the signs/symptoms of TMJ disorder?

The most common TMJ symptoms are:

  • Jaw Pain – If you have pain in the jaw muscles or joints or tenderness in the muscles.
  • Jaw Clicking – If you hear a clicking sound from your jaw while eating.
  • Pain in the Ears – If you are experiencing pain in and around the ear or hearing a ringing sound.
  • Sore or Stiff Jaw Muscles – If your jaws are stiff and not able to chew properly.
  • A Shift in the Jaw – When the upper and lower teeth alignment (malocclusion) occurs
  • Headaches – If you have constant headaches
  • Locking of the Jaw – If you are feeling discomfort in opening and closing the jaw.
  • Pain in the Temple Area – If you experience pain in the area just above your ears.

What are the possible causes of TMJ disorder?

Struggling with TMJ pain can really make your life miserable. But, do you really know how it is caused and what are the possible reasons for TMJ?

TMJ Disorder can be caused due to several reasons; however, the exact reasons why an individual is suffering from TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine.

Your pain in the jaw joint may be due to one or a combination of multiple factors, such as:

  • Heredity (Misalignment of Jaw)
  • Arthritis
  • An injury in the jaw
  • Stress
  • Gum chewing
  • Excessive stress on the jaw joint
  • Trauma
  • Improper bite
  • Arthritis
  • Wear & tear
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Orthodontic braces

When should you consult a doctor?

Is intolerable and continuous pain in your jaw disturbing your day-to-day activities? Are your painful jaws affecting your sleep patterns?

When you are experiencing intense pain in your jaws, ears, and face, you should immediately visit a TMJ specialist for quick jaw pain relief. They should be the right person to prescribe you the best treatment.

Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders

One of the first persons to notice or diagnose a TMJ disorder is usually your dentist. Though your family physician, an ENT specialist, or an oral surgeon can also diagnose and treat your TMJ. Initially, they might give you some painkiller medicines for instant relief from pain, but if the pain and jaw tenderness persists, you should go to the TMJ specialist.

What is the best line of treatment for TMJ Disorders?

TMD Specialists offer the best TMJ treatment using the right technology, the right equipment, and above all, their years of domain expertise.

The line of treatment for the TMJ patient is as follows:

  • The first step is to meet the TMJ specialist and get yourself examined thoroughly.
  • Your condition shall be observed using advanced equipment like x-rays, jaw motion study, and Jaw tracking.
  • The specialists of TMJ treatment in Pleasant Hill will explain to you how the particular symptoms will be treated.

TMJ specialists will first start with traditional treatment options like steroid injections, mouth guards, muscle relaxers, and oral splints to restore the function of TMJ in people. Still, if there is no relief, they might opt for advanced TMJ treatment options such as:

  • Jaw Tracker – It analyzes 3D motion to record the motion of the lower jaw.
  • Sonography – It measures small vibrations in your jaw joint while opening or closing your mouth.
  • Electromyography (EMG) – It records your jaw’s electrical impulses to measure the force sent to multiple areas.
  • TENS – It relaxes muscle spasms and aids in teaching the jaw to work properly.

Check the below-mentioned cases for when surgery is the only treatment for TMD:

  • If you have intense continuous pain in your jaw and medications are not reducing the pain symptoms, specialists may recommend surgery to treat your TMJ disorder.
  • If you aren’t able to open and close your mouth due to severe pain and can’t even chew your food, surgery could be the right option for you.
  • If a particular structural problem or a jaw ailment has been diagnosed with MRI, dental surgery can give provide you with jaw pain relief.
  • If you got an injury in your jaw that has caused a misaligned jaw, dental surgery could be used to correct jaw alignment.

Final Thoughts

If you have pain in your face, ear, or jawbone, you may be dealing with TMJ. As you understand your symptoms, quickly consult with your doctor. If left untreated, it can increase your pain and discomfort and might make the TMJ treatment even more difficult and painful. So, don’t delay anymore; visit a TMJ specialist for fast jaw pain relief.

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