The temporomandibular joint is responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorder, a malfunction of this joint, can lead to pain in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.
For both medical practitioners and patients alike, determining the causes of TMJ disorders can be difficult. Some of the potential factors include genetics, arthritis, jaw injury, bruxism, etc.
What are Common TMJ Symptoms?
Common TMJ symptoms include discomfort or tenderness in the jaw, pain in one or both the TMJ joints, aching around or in your ears, challenges chewing or discomfort during the activity, aching facial pain, jaw joint locking, making it challenging for you to open and close your mouth.
TMJ disorders lead to symptoms such as a clicking sound or grating sensation when chewing. Patients who are not suffering from pain or clicking sounds may not require treatment.
When Should I Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorder?
Patients who experience persistent pain or tenderness in the jaw should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. These patients can help themselves by visiting a TMJ specialist immediately, particularly if they are having trouble opening or closing their jaws entirely.
How TMJ Disorders are Diagnosed
When visiting a TMJ specialist, they will administer various tests to diagnose your jaw pain. They will feel your jaw and listen to the sounds that it makes as you open and close your mouth. The jaw’s range of motion is also observed by pressing on specific areas to identify any sources of pain or discomfort.
If it is suspected that there is an issue, dental x-rays are typically recommended to examine the patient’s teeth and jaw. CT scans may be carried out to attain a more detailed view of the bones in the joint, and MRI scans can identify issues in the joint’s disk and surrounding tissues.
In some cases, TMJ disorder symptoms will disappear on their own without treatment. However, if the symptoms persist, various treatment options might be recommended.
In addition to nonsurgical treatments, various medications can also help treat the symptoms of TMJ disorders. For example, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can help patients mitigate their pain. If these interventions are not doing the trick, however, prescription pain meds can also be acquired.
If the issue cannot be improved through nonsurgical means, procedures such as modified condylotomy and open joint surgery are usually recommended. This is usually the case for patients whose problems are related to structural issues in the joint, requiring repair or replacement of the joint. A TMJ specialist will provide patients with all of the necessary information on these treatments before going forward.
What is the Takeaway?
TMJ disorders affect many patients for totally unknown reasons, and the condition can be truly difficult to diagnose. It is vital that patients who are dealing with persistent jaw pain refer to a TMJ specialist for proper diagnosis and consider treatment options to address it as soon as possible. While this condition can dissipate on its own, it is important that patients take it seriously and not allow it to become exacerbated.
At Admira Dentistry, we leave no stone unturned in our diagnoses of our patients. Contact us today to learn more about our TMJ treatments.