Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, better known as “TMJ disorder” or “TMJD” is a painful condition that can make it difficult to get through your day without headaches or jaw pain. Being that the TMJ is responsible for thousands of movements of the mandible each and every day, misuse or damage to the tissues in and around the joint can cause complex problems to develop.
How do I Know if I Have TMJ Disorder?
Ideally, the TMJ should be able to move in an up-and- down and side-to-side motion free of any interference. However, if damage to the joint has occurred, or the tissues around the joint are strained, you may experience symptoms of TMJ disorder such as:
- Popping or clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth
- The jaw locking in a certain position
- Limited range of movement (such as only being able to open your mouth a very small amount.)
- Muscle pain or discomfort through the jaws, face, head, neck, or shoulders
- Headaches / migraines
- Previous history of trauma to the jaw (such as a car accident.)
During your exam, Dr. Alizadeh will assess your jaw function and order a panoramic x-ray to inspect the anatomical structures around your TMJ. If it’s determined that you have a form of TMJ disorder, our Sacramento dentist will help you find a way to properly manage it effectively.
When you’re past the point of cold compresses and over the counter pain relievers, there are usually a few options to consider when you’re looking to stop the pain caused by TMJD:
Overuse of the jaw joint caused by bruxism (grinding) or clenching can cause unnecessary muscle strain. Most people clench and grind when they are stressed, during sleep, or even during their commute to work. A custom fitted splint naturally relaxes the TMJ because it separates the jaws and prevents full muscle engagement. Splints are one of the first ways to proactively manage TMJD related pain and we can make one right here in our office.
Did you know that misalignment of your teeth can cause pain in your jaws? If your TMJ is having to compromise due to a faulty biting relationship each time you’re eating, the extra strain can take a toll. One of the most effective ways to stop and prevent this excessive wear and tear is to correct the alignment of the teeth through orthodontics. Fortunately, our patients have several types of braces to choose from at our Sacramento dentist office.
More severe types of TMJ disorders may require the use of prescription muscle relaxers, although it is not very common and should only be used temporarily. Some people even find relief with injectable therapy like Botox, as it causes a semi-permanent relaxation of the muscles surrounding the joint.
In very rare circumstances, severe forms of TMJ disorder may require surgery. This is usually looked at as a last resort, as surgical procedures cannot be reversed and may not provide full pain relief.