The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in the back of the mouth and is a hinge that allows us to both chew and talk.
The TMJ also takes a lot of abuse from us daily and is susceptible to TMJ dysfunction (TMD). But what exactly is TMJ dysfunction and if you're struggling with it, how is it treated? Let's take a look at the answers to these questions and more.
What is TMJ Dysfunction?
TMJ dysfunction or TMD are conditions that affect this specific joint as well as the muscles and ligaments surrounding it. These conditions can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, between 5-12% of adults suffer from some sort of TMJ disorder.
The types of TMD are classified as disorders of the jaw joints, disorders of the chewing muscles, and headaches that are due to TMD.
Symptoms of TMD
The symptoms of TMD can differ quite a bit depending on what part of the TMJ is affected. The symptoms can include jaw pain, facial pain, headaches, jaw stiffness, jaw popping or clicking, earaches, toothaches, and ringing in the ears.
How is TMJ Dysfunction Treated
Dentists use a variety of techniques to improve the function of the joint and reduce the symptoms you're experiencing. Some of the treatments used include:
Medications used to treat the symptoms of TMD include pain medication, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxers. Some medications can actually cause teeth grinding or clenching which can lead to TMD. You may have to come off a certain medication or change the type you're taking in order to get some relief.
There are also non-surgical options including mouth guards, physical therapy, trigger point injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and even ultrasound therapy. Your doctor will determine which one is right for you.
.Surgery is also an option for treating TMD. The types of surgery include arthrocentesis, TMJ arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery.
For arthrocentesis, your provider is often looking for the reason behind your pain and during the procedure, they may use a needle to remove any fluid from the joint.
With TMJ arthroscopy, a small incision is made near the ear and a small camera on a tube is inserted. Surgical tools are then used to reshape the bone, move the disk in the joint, and remove scar tissue.
An open-joint surgery is used to access the joint directly and then the bone is reshaped that way.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are having pain in your jaw or neck area and are wondering if TMD is the problem, scheduling a consultation with one of our experienced team members at UNO DENTAL is a great first step. They can evaluate your condition and give you the treatment that will help with any discomfort you're feeling.
To schedule a consultation today, call our San Francisco, CA office at (415) 523-9178 or use our online scheduling tool.