“TMJ” stands for Temporomandibular Joint, or the jaw joint. You have two TMJs, one in front of each ear, connecting the lower jaw bone (the mandible) to the skull. The joints allow movement up and down, side to side, and forward and back–all the mobility necessary for biting, chewing and swallowing food, for speaking and for making facial expressions.
Causes: Not all causes are known. Some possible causes or contributing factors are injuries to the jaw area, various forms of Arthritis, dental procedures, genetics, hormones, low-level infections, auto-immune diseases, stretching of the jaw as occurs with inserting a breathing tube before surgery, and clenching or grinding of the teeth.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat or yawn?
Have you ever injured your neck, head or jaws?
Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken, or worn?
Diagnosing TMJ diseases and disorders can be difficult and confusing. For example, facial pain can be a symptom of many conditions, such as sinus or ear infections, decayed or abscessed teeth, various types of headache, and facial neuralgia (nerve-related facial pain).
At present, there is no widely accepted, standard test to correctly identify all TMJ conditions. In most cases, however, a complete evaluation, including a detailed medical history, the patient’s description of symptoms, and physical examination of the head, neck, face and jaw provide information useful for making a diagnosis.
Tests that are recommended are often intended to rule out other possible medical conditions. A diagnosis of TMJ diseases and disorders may be made only after every other possibility has been considered and eliminated. Many TMJ patients see multiple healthcare providers, such as primary care physicians, dentists, sleep specialists, ear, nose and throat specialists, neurologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, pain specialists, chiropractors, etc., in their search for answers.
Before undergoing any costly diagnostic test, it is always wise to get an independent opinion from another healthcare provider of your choice and one not associated with your current provider.
Treatment: There are various treatment options that our surgeons can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw.
Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, together, we will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care along with professional care.