Chronic Jaw Pain: Dealing with TMJ Disorders

A TMJ disorder is an issue that affects either of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Your jaw is connected to the rest to your skull by a pair of these sliding hinge joints. There is one on each side of a person's face.  When these joints are not working as they are supposed to, you are likely to experience jaw pain and discomfort.

TMJ disorders (TMD) can be difficult to diagnose. The pain might be caused by a variety of factors like trauma to the jaw, arthritis or genetics. Temporomandibular joint issues can also be caused by bad habits like teeth clenching or grinding.

Common symptoms associated with TMD include:

  • Tender jaw
  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Facial pain
  • Pain coming from the ears
  • Difficulty closing or opening the mouth
  • A popping/clicking sound coming from the jaw when moved

Treating TMJ disorders

Anyone who exhibits symptoms of TMD should seek dental help immediately. The dentist will:

  • Feel how the TMJs behave when the mouth is closed and opened
  • Evaluate the person's range of motion
  • Press certain areas of the jaw looking for signs of discomfort or pain
  • Perform diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs and CT scans
  • Perform a TMJ arthroscopy

Once the person's condition has been properly diagnosed, the dentist will advise the patient about treatment options. Treatments are often combined to deal with TMJ issues. Common treatments used include:

1. Medication

Medication may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. If the person's condition is being caused by muscle spasms, the dentist might prescribe a muscle relaxant. Antidepressants are also sometimes used in low doses to address TMD brought on by bruxism.

2. Therapy

TMJ disorders can also be treated with therapy. Mouthguards and oral splints can be effective when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of TMDs. Physical therapy can also be helpful. It is used to strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles. Other therapies used to deal with TMJ disorders include ice, heat and ultrasound therapies. If the patient's TMD is brought on by bad habits like compulsively chewing on hard things like ice or teeth grinding, counseling can help them get to the root of the problem.

3. Surgery

There are a variety of surgical procedures that can be used to deal with TMJ disorders. These treatments are typically reserved as a last option that is used when other types of treatment have failed. Surgical procedures commonly used to address TMDs include:

  • Injection like Botox and corticosteroids
  • Arthrocentesis: During this treatment, small needles are inserted into the TMJs, and fluids are pumped through the needle to clean out the joint
  • Open joint surgery: During this procedure, the affected joint is surgically repaired or replaced
  • Modified condylotomy: This is typically done to address locking
  • TMJ arthroscopy: A thin tube is inserted into the joints, and small surgical tools are used to repair the joint

There is relief for those with TMJ disorders

Dealing with a TMJ disorder can feel like the end of the world, but there are several ways to get relief. Stop by our Tampa office to explore your options.

Request an appointment here: https://www.northtampadentistry.com or call North Tampa Dentistry at (813) 430-0933 for an appointment in our Tampa office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

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