TMJ treatment refers to the therapies used to address temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, sometimes known as TMD. This condition can result in significant problems in the jaw, potentially involving bone, muscle and soft tissue.
The two TM joints are situated just forward of the ears. Functioning like hinges of sorts, these joints connect the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone.
This structure facilitates opening and closing the mouth — including biting, chewing and speaking —- and moving the jaw freely. When patients develop TMD, however, these functions can become painful and difficult.
TMJ Causes and Risks
TMJ problems can develop for several reasons, including accidents, stress, hereditary factors and arthritis.
Traumatic injury such as a blow or being struck with an object, falls and car crashes can damage the discs that cushion the joint. Arthritis can degrade the bone and soft tissues of the joint structure.
Most often, however, patients develop this disorder from grinding their teeth during sleep, a condition known as bruxism.
Without treatment, this condition will worsen over time. Patients can experience chronic pain that disrupts sleep and causes bone degradation, gum disease and tooth loss. Secondary problems may develop, including malnourishment, depression and other types of chronic illness.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms in Richmond, Indiana
Patients suffering from TMJ problems and TMD typically experience a cluster of symptoms that include persistent headaches, earaches, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness. You may notice your jaw grinding, popping or clicking when you eat or yawn, often with accompanying pain or pressure.
Your dentist may notice that you have excessive wear and fracturing on your teeth. You may experience ringing in your ears (tinnitus) or hearing problems. You may also have difficulty opening your mouth fully.
TMD symptoms tend to be worse in the morning, which indicates a strong likelihood that you grind or clench your teeth during the night.
Some patients seek medical treatment for what they believe are sinus problems, with pain around the eyes, nose or even the forehead. This phenomenon is known as referred pain, which can also occur with TMJ, as your jaw joints can affect many of the nerves and muscles of the face.
TMJ Treatment Options
If the condition is caught early, our doctors may be able to use a conservative treatment approach. This may involve taking anti-inflammatory medications, using heat or ice on the jaw, making dietary modifications and working on comprehensive stress management. A mouthguard may also be necessary to minimize the damage caused by bruxism.
Unfortunately, many patients suffering from TMJ disorder do not become aware of the problem until they begin to experience complications. By that time, the damage may require a more aggressive form of treatment. For many patients, oral surgery for TMJ disorder provides the most effective — and permanent — resolution to this troubling condition.
Contact Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery LLC today to schedule a consultation to learn if you are at risk, and to get started with your TMJ treatment.