A malfunctioning jaw that causes a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is often associated with a number of classic symptoms, the most common of which is jaw pain. Other signs of a TMJ disorder may include clicking, popping or locking of the jaw joint, facial pain or earache or difficulty chewing.
Patients who are experiencing such symptoms should consult with an oral surgeon to pinpoint the specific issue in the jaw that is causing the TMJ disorder. The jaw is a tremendously complex joint, comprised of a number of bones, tendons and muscles. An issue with any of these components could cause jaw pain and other TMJ symptoms.
Therefore, the oral surgeon must carefully examine your jaw and use x-ray imaging to get a complete picture of the jaw to inform the diagnosis and treatment plan. The problem may be congenital in nature, or a co-occurring condition, such as arthritis or bruxism, might be exacerbating your symptoms. The surgeon can identify the problem that needs to be addressed and then move forward with the most appropriate treatment.
The recommended treatment for your TMJ disorder will be related to the specific issue involved, and generally your surgeon will suggest more conservative interventions to start. For example, medications such as muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory drugs can resolve muscle pain. Wearing a custom-designed mouthguard at night is a good strategy against bruxism. Physical therapy for the jaw can also be effective in relieving pain.
A jaw that is structurally damaged may need to be surgically repaired, however, in order to eliminate TMJ pain and other symptoms. In some cases, the TMJ treatment may be coordinated in conjunction with an orthodontist if a malocclusion must be corrected in order to relieve the patient’s TMJ symptoms.
Patients who are experiencing the most common symptoms of a TMJ disorder should be evaluated to determine if that condition is present. Call our office to schedule an evaluation if you’re experiencing any of these issues.