Without your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, you wouldn’t be able to eat, speak, or even yawn normally. The joint, located on each side of your jaw, functions as a sort of sliding hinge. It connects the jawbone to your skull, allowing for proper function and movement.
TMJ disorders, more commonly called “TMJ,” affect one or both of the joints. While they’re treatable, they can cause a range of symptoms and lead to complications.
To diagnose TMJ you have to pay attention to the symptoms. Here are the most common ones:
- Aching pain in and surrounding your ear
- Clicking sounds when you chew or open your mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Jaw tenderness
- Locking of your jaw
- Painful chewing
- Pain in one or more of your temporomandibular joints
- Trouble opening or closing your mouth
These symptoms can stem from other conditions, which is why they’re typically written off as something else. At Madison Square Dentistry, we won't ignore your symptoms. We'll offer a proper diagnosis before the condition becomes serious.
The longer the TMJ symptoms go unmanaged or treated, the greater your likelihood of complications. Especially if you have arthritis, a previous jaw injury, or connective tissue diseases. These conditions put you at higher risk for TMJ complications, like these:
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Deterioration of cartilage in your jaw joints
- Disc and jaw joint displacement
- Muscle problems, such as chronic tightness and pain
- Ongoing emotional stress
- Sleep difficulty and daytime sleepiness
- Traumatic jaw injuries
While complications are rare they do happen. Don’t wait until your symptoms are unbearable, seek professional help as early as possible.
Treatment for TMJ tends to be milder and less invasive when addressed early on. Lifestyle changes and over-the-counter pain-reliever might suffice in the early stages. Counseling and other means of stress management may also help. Some of the more advanced TMJ treatment options for serious issues include:
- Arthrocentesis, a minimally-invasive procedure where small needles are inserted into the joint for fluid irrigation
- Other injections, such as botulinum toxin type A (Botox or others)
- TMJ arthroscopic surgery, during which a small tube is placed in the joint space
- Modified condylotomy, a surgery on the mandible to reduce jaw locking
- Open-joint surgery, which repairs the joint through a more intense procedure
Learn more about TMJ and ways to improve your overall oral health by scheduling an exam at Madison Square Dentistry. Dr. Lawrence Wang and our whole team would love to assist you.