TMJ is an abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw to your skull. TMJ disorders affect this joint and the chewing muscles, causing pain around the jaw, ear and face. Symptoms vary by patient but can also include locking of the jaw, a clicking sound or limited movement.
If you experience persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw area, or have trouble opening or closing your mouth, Dr. Abadan recommends you make an appointment to be examined immediately.
Understanding TMJ Disorder and Its Causes
Understanding TMJ disorders involves looking at the anatomy of the temporomandibular joint and connecting jawbone. The bones that interact with the joint itself are covered with cartilage and separated by a small disk that absorbs any shock. TMJ disorders may arise if the structural components malfunction in one of the following ways:
- The disk erodes or falls out of alignment
- The cartilage is affected by arthritis
- The joint sustains a sudden impact or trauma
Perpetual teeth clenching or grinding can also put pressure on the joint and cause pain and other TMJ disorder symptoms.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorders
There are several ways to diagnose TMJ disorders, including physical exams, X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. When examining your jaw, Dr. Abadan will look for your jaw’s range of motion, listen to your jaw as you open and close your mouth and may press on areas around your jaw to identify tender or painful spots.
TMJ Treatment Options
Many cases of TMJ disorders can be treated non-surgically, while severe cases may require more invasive measures like surgical intervention. Dr. Abadan prefers to start by recommending more conservative treatment methods, which include the following:
- Medications: to relieve pain, relax the muscles or sedate you while you sleep to prevent teeth clenching
- Night guards: hard or soft guards that slip over the teeth at night
- Sport bite guards: slip over the teeth while you play sports or exercise
Should these methods fail to correct the problem, Dr. Abadan will explore procedures such as physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, injections of corticosteroids, or even Botox or surgery to repair or replace the joint.
Get Relief from TMJ Pain with Dr. Abadan
Take the first step toward alleviating the persistent pain of a TMJ disorder: Contact Dr. Abadan at 858-350-7400 to schedule a consultation. Upon diagnosis, she can review your treatment options and develop a plan to relieve your pain and repair your jaw joint.
© 2019 Gentle Dentistry