Understanding TMJ Disorder and Treatment

If your jaw pops, clicks or locks, you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder. TMJ, which stands for “temporomandibular joint,” refers to the hinged joints on either side of your jaw. While this condition can be uncomfortable, the vast majority of cases are resolved through non-surgical interventions.

Scheduling a visit with your Fioritto dentist is the best way to determine if you have a TMJ issue, its severity, and how we can help you! Read on for an overview of this common condition.

TMJ disorder symptoms

Your jaw has a joint on each side, which allows you to open and close your mouth. The joint also allows you to slide your jaw from side to side. Cartilage covers the bones, while a small disk in the joint can absorb shock. When functioning properly, your jaw will open, shut and move side to side smoothly and painlessly.

When the disc is misaligned, wears down or is damaged (by arthritis or impact), you may experience TMJ disorder symptoms. Other TNJ related causes include clenching the jaw, grinding the teeth (bruxism) and certain connective tissue disorders.

Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Jaw popping
  • Locked jaw
  • Clicking noises when opening and closing your mouth
  • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing
  • Facial aches and pains
  • Tenderness in the jaw
  • Earache

Treating TMJ disorder

Generally, if you’re not experiencing any discomfort, and you can easily open and close your mouth, you will likely not need TMJ treatment. If however, you’re experiencing symptoms, your dentist at Fioritto Family Dental can certainly create a treatment plan to help you.

Mild symptoms can appear when you’re under stress or have experienced physical trauma to or near your jaw. Clenching your jaw—whether awake or asleep—can result in the aches, tenderness, clicking and popping you may be experiencing.

To resolve mild symptoms at home, try over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Applying moist heat or ice to the joints can also relax the muscles.

If you have persistent or severe symptoms, it’s best to make an appointment at Fioritto Family Dental so we can help you feel better . For mild, persistent cases caused by clenching or grinding, a mouth guard may help by keeping your jaw in the proper position overnight. We may recommend physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the jaw. In some cases, prescription medication may be appropriate: muscle relaxants and low-dose tricyclic antidepressants can help relieve underlying causes. Finally, counseling can help address underlying causes such as stress and anxiety.

Most TMJ cases can resolve within days or weeks, using one or more of the treatments mentioned above. In rare cases, patients may need extensive treatment. Treatment may include irrigating the joint to remove inflammatory debris, Botox or corticosteroid injections and occasionally, surgical intervention.

For most patients, TMJ popping, clicking and discomfort resolves quickly on its own. If you’ve recently been under a lot of stress or have sustained impact to your jaw, there’s no need to worry: try over-the-counter treatment and hot/cold therapy to relax the jaw.

If symptoms persist or worsen, give us a call today!

We look forward to helping you feel better!!!