TMJ is an abbreviation commonly used for a collection of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. There is one TMJ on each side of your head.
The TMJ combines both hinge and sliding motions to allow free movement of your jaw and skull. The areas where the two bones meet are usually covered by a layer of cartilage along with a cushioning disc.
TMJ disorders can have a variety of causes, the worst involving deterioration of the cartilage and disc that protect the TMJ. The most common causes include:
- Overexertion(excessive talking, gum chewing, etc.)
- Bruxism(tooth grinding, squeezing, or clenching)
Any of these can cause the cartilage and disc to wear down, exposing the jaw and skull bones directly to each other. Muscle fatigue, soreness, and frequent head and neck aches are the most common symptoms. In some cases, the exact cause of TMJ disorders is not known.
The signs and symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- Pain around the jaw or TMJ
- Aching pain in or around ear, temple, forehead, neck
- Problems chewing
- Facial pain
- Locking of the TMJ
- Impaired TMJ range of motion including difficulty opening wide
- Clicking, popping, creaking in the ears
Sometimes, the symptoms of TMJ disorders resolve on their own, but often, assistance from a doctor is required. The most common treatments for TMJ disorders include:
- Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants to control pain
- Reduction of stress triggers
- Tricyclic antidepressants if the suspected cause is bruxism
- Mouthguards to wear at night to ease pressure on the joints
- Physical or massage therapy to strengthen the joint and surrounding musculature
- Counseling to identify pain and pressure triggers and how to avoid them
- Arthrocentesis to irrigate the joint and flush away inflammatory substances
- Corticosteroid or Botox® injections to relieve inflammation and stress on the joint
- TMJ arthroscopy to investigate the disorder surgically
- Modified condylotomy on the mandible, not the TMJ, if locking and pain are the main issues
- Arthrotomy to repair or replace the TMJ, but only after trying other conventional treatments first
TMJ Treatment in Tampa Bay
If you’re tired of living with the effects of TMJ, call Dr. Piper to finally get some relief. We can help you pin down the cause of your TMJ disorder and then find a treatment plan that works for you. Call us at (727) 548-7100 to schedule your TMJ disorder consultation today!