TMJ disorders are more common than people realize. TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the skull. You can easily feel these joints by placing your fingers in front of your ears then opening and closing your mouth. The joint allows your mouth to open, close, and move side to side easily.
When patients experience pain in this joint and the surrounding muscles or have difficulty chewing or opening the mouth, the condition is called a TMJ disorder. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a TMJ disorder:
- Pain in the facial muscles
- Pain in the ears or the jaw joints
- Difficulty biting or chewing foods
- Grating, popping, or clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Increased headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, or ear pain/ringing
- Trouble opening the mouth all of the way
The cause of TMJ disorders is not always clear, but to properly treat the problem, it is important to find an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who can properly diagnose the situation and develop a treatment plan for long-term recovery.
TMJ disorders may arise from a number of conditions including
- Injury to the jaw or surrounding muscles
- Excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Displaced or perforated disk in the joint
The initial goals of TMJ treatment are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can also be applied to the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Often, ongoing self-care treatments are highly effective as well and may be included as a part of the treatment plan. Treatments that may be helpful include
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
No singular treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely, and treatment takes time to become effective. Drs. Clark, Young, and Lewallen will develop a treatment plan that allows you to have a more comfortable jaw and oral function. If you think you are experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms, contact Southern Oral & Facial Surgery, located in Franklin, TN, and Thompson’s Station, TN, to meet with one of our highly skilled oral surgeons for a consultation.