Our clinic offers TMJ Treatments. These treatments examine the ability of your jaw to open and close properly. TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. How your jaw and joint interact affect how you chew, speak and swallow. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
There are certain symptoms that are caused by TMJ you should be aware of, all of which you should bring to your dentist’s attention.
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for this condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, etc. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If untreated and taken to extremes, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint.
When you come in for your check up, we look for certain signs of TMJ. We check your jaw joints for pain and soreness and listen for any clicking noises or popping noises that occur when you open and close your mouth. Lockjaw is also something we test for when you both close and open your mouth. Your bite is also tested to make sure the issue is not caused by how your jaws line up when you bite down. There are many issues when it comes to TMJ and you may suffer from one or many of them. We do a thorough exam because the specific issues you suffer from are treated differently. We want to choose the most efficient way to treat your TMJ.
If deemed necessary, we will take an x-ray in order to view your jaw, joints, and teeth. This helps us rule out other possible things that may be mistaken for TMJ. An MRI or CT scan is done in some cases. All of these x-rays and scans are painless and only require you to remain still for a time.
TMJ issues can result from different things. If your jaw is injured or dislocated, you may need treatment. It can also result from how your teeth and jaw align, or grinding your teeth due to daily stress. Many people may not realize they clench their jaw during the day as a way to deal with stress. It is important that you contact our clinic if you have suffered an injury or clench your jaw and notice the symptoms we have listed above.
There are several things we advise our patients to do in order to treat this on a daily basis, especially to avoid letting it get to a point where you need surgery. As far as nutrition, you should eat soft foods and avoid chewing gum. You can also use heat packs at home to help with pain. One of the best things people who clench their jaws can do is be more aware of it. Once you notice you are doing it, you can practice relaxation and breathing to stop it. We can also give you a mouth guard to help reduce the pressure during the day and at night. There are certain medications we can prescribe when deemed necessary due to the pain you may be in.
In certain cases, we will recommend surgery. There are certain things you must suffer from in order to qualify for surgery, as it is our goal to help you heal without it. You must experience intense pain when you try and open or close your jaw. You must be very limited on how much you can open your mouth. Eating and drinking must be very difficult and cause pain in your jaw. Your pain must have become progressively worse over a period of time, despite going through many other treatments. Lastly, imaging must show that you have damage or disease in your jaw joint.
If you qualify for surgery, and there are no other options, there are different types of surgery you will be made aware of. The surgery that is chosen will be a direct reflection on the severity of your symptoms.
This type of surgery is done by injecting fluid directly into your jaw. This fluid does some amazing things. It flushes out byproducts of inflammation which basically reduces the pressure in your jaw. By reducing this pressure, the joint becomes less stiff and less painful when it is moved. Since this is considered a minimally invasive procedure, you can return home after it is done. This procedure has a high success rate and short recovery time.
During this surgery, a narrow tube is inserted through the skin, then into the jaw. Small surgical tools are inserted through the tube that the surgeon is able to manipulate and operate on the joint. This is a more invasive procedure, so you can expect recovery time to last several days to a full week. With this procedure, your doctor is able to remove any scar tissue if you have had a mouth injury. They can also directly inject medication.
This surgery requires making an incision a few inches long over the joint. This allows the surgeon to operate on the joint. Open-Joint Surgery is only considered for severe TMJ disorders. In this situation, your jaw may have tissue or bone growth that has caused the jaw to lock. The recovery here is much longer than the other two types as it is the most invasive.
It is very important to us that you do not allow your symptoms to become so bad that we have to consider surgical options. That is why coming in for check-ups is so important. Most of the symptoms can be treated quite easily, and at a low cost. If you have any questions or have been experiencing any of the issues we have mentioned, come in for a free consultation.