Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, has several potential causes and affects many patients between 20 and 40 years old. While it is more common in women, nearly anyone can be affected by the disorder.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder refers to various conditions that affect the mandible–the lower jaw that attaches to the skull. The joints are found on both sides of your head in front of the ears.
The disorders cause tenderness at the joint, facial pain, and difficulty moving the joint. Other symptoms may include headaches, ringing in the ears, changes to your teeth placement, swelling, earaches, and pain in the neck or shoulders.
TMJ disorder is any condition that causes the muscles and ligaments in the jaw to become inflamed. The disorder can cause various problems, affecting your speaking, eating habits, and other daily activities.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
There are various factors that can cause temporomandibular joint disorder to develop. The most common is the frequent force on the jaw from improper chewing habits or teeth grinding. Other causes include:
- Trauma to the jaw
- Genetic structural jaw issues
- Growth disorders
- Improper bite
- Hormonal changes
- Poor posture
In severe cases, the damage to the TMJ from injury or arthritis can lead to the cartilage disc in the jaw slipping out of place. Surgery may be required in those cases to remove or replace the disc to alleviate pressure on the nerve.
How Can I Treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Your treatment for TMJ disorder depends on what is causing it. There are no standardized tests to determine the cause. Dr. Sonneveld will conduct a physical exam to determine the extent of the inflammation. You may also undergo imaging tests such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to determine the cause.
At Faces Fort Worth, we aim to reduce pain, restore normal jaw function, and prevent or lessen any long-term damage. We will stabilize the joint and help you make lifestyle changes that protect your jaw.
If the inflammation is not severe, Dr. Sonneveld will recommend at-home treatments such as eating soft foods, icing the area, and reducing jaw movements. These will lessen the inflammation. If your condition is caused by stress or other environmental factors, you may need to make lifestyle changes to alleviate the cause.
Some patients may require medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, or local anesthetics to ensure the relaxation of the jaw. Muscle relaxers may be used at night, along with a splint to prevent teeth grinding.
We recommend various massages or therapies to loosen the muscles and prevent further inflammation. We may recommend surgery if you see no improvement in your symptoms or have severe dysfunction. Depending on the cause and extent of your pain, Faces Fort Worth offers various oral surgeries to restore and adjust your jaw to improve your TMJ disorder.
Take the Next Step
If you have further questions about temporomandibular joint disorder, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at Faces Fort Worth. Call us at (817) 927-1818 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to taking care of you.