Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joint is the joint between the mandible of the lower jaw and the temple of the skull bone. This joint is very important in the opening and closing of the mouth during eating or speaking, and it can be affected by a family of disorders from simple dislocation to infection and even fracture. If you have experienced a clicking sound or painful symptoms in this region, we are glad to inform you that it is a lot faster and easier to get treatment than what used to be in the past.

The symptoms of a TMJ disorder usually occur during chewing or following a traumatic experience, and they require urgent medical attention and treatment. Treatment of a TMJ disorder is not often resolved in one hospital visit, and it takes time for effective treatment to be fully implemented. Our surgeons and specialists can help you get a more comfortable and healthier jaw.

Jaw troubles?

Many reasons can cause TMJ disorders; for example, clenching or grinding of your teeth while tightening your jaw muscles may stress your TM joint. It is also possible to damage the joint following a traumatic injury or disease like arthritis. These conditions can affect the joint directly or tear the muscle or ligaments. The joint cartilage, which serves as a cushion for the jaw joint, can also slip out of position and cause painful swelling. Depending on the cause of the disorder, the result may be misaligned teeth bite, painful swelling, clicking, grating, or trouble when you try to open your mouth.

You can suspect a TMJ Disorder if

  • You aware of grinding or clenching your teeth

  • You wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws

  • You have frequent headaches or neck aches

  • The pain gets worse when you clench your teeth

  • Stress make your clenching and pain worse

  • Your jaw clicks, pop, grate, catch or lock when you open your mouth

  • It is difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn

  • You ever injured your neck, head, or jaws

  • You had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints

  • You have teeth that no longer touch when you bite

  • Your teeth meet differently from time to time

  • It is hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food

  • Your teeth are sensitive, loose, broken or worn

The more the number of “yes” answers, the higher the chance it is that you have a TMJ disorder. To understand the treatment of TMJ disorders, you will need to know how they occur.

TMJ Surgery Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the TMJ surgery process, please click the image below. It will launch our educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about TMJ surgery.

TMJ Surgery Overview

TMJ Surgery and Treatment Overview

Our board-certified specialists will employ the best treatment option to treat your TMJ disorder on an individual basis and to get you the best outcome. Preliminary evaluation and X-rays are usually conducted to ascertain the diagnosis, and the best line of treatment is provided on an individual basis, depending on the cause. A dual mechanism of therapy involving the patient and the professional team always yields the most excellent result. 

The immediate goal of treatment is to treat the joint pain and muscle spasm; this is usually accomplished by using a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory medicine, or a relaxing muscle agent. In some cases, direct injection of steroids into the joint space may be required to reduce joint pain and inflammation. A variety of personalized treatments that can also be effective includes:

  • Resting your jaw

  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating

  • Eating soft foods

  • Applying ice and heat

  • Exercising your jaw

  • Practicing good posture

Physical therapy, like a biofeedback mechanism for stress management, may also be helpful, and a splint (transparent plastic device) may provide temporary relief. The brace fits over the top or base of the teeth, helps to keep the teeth apart, thus relaxing the muscles and joints; hence, there is reduced pain. A nightguard is useful to prevent clenching of your teeth at night, and it also protects the joint surfaces and cartilages. Also, an orthotic stabilizing device can be worn 2 hours/day or only in the night to position the jaw properly. This device also prevents tooth wear.

BITE CORRECTION SURGERY

One of the treatments for a TMJ disorder that prevents the proper alignment of the upper and lower jaw is surgery. This is because misaligned upper and lower teeth require bite adjustment orthodontics, which, if not sufficient, may require jaw reconstruction and restorative dental work. Surgery options include arthroscopy or open joint repair in severe cases. Our doctors don’t consider surgery unless the jaws cannot open, are dislocated, irreducible has chronic degeneration, or a previous appliance treatment for the patient is unsuccessful.