The human jaw, which is also known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is a complex structure comprised of a number of bones, tendons and muscles. When something goes wrong in any of these components and affects the jaw’s ability to move and function properly, it can result in a TMJ disorder.
The most prominent symptom of a TMJ disorder is often significant facial pain. The pain may not be localized to the face, either. It can spread to the ear, neck or shoulders.
Patients with a TMJ disorder may also notice popping or clicking sounds when they move the jaw, especially when they are chewing. The jaw may also “lock” unexpectedly or have a limited range of motion when it is being opened and closed.
TMJ may also cause the patient to feel that the bite is off, and there may be swelling at the site, as well.
Many patients consult with an oral surgeon to address TMJ issues in order to get a specific diagnosis that can inform treatment.
Many patients consult with an oral surgeon to address TMJ issues in order to get a specific diagnosis that can inform treatment. Because an oral surgeon has expertise in the various structures that make up a functional jaw, the surgeon is well-positioned to determine which structures are out of whack and causing your symptoms.
Even if an oral surgeon is involved in care for a TMJ disorder, the treatment may not necessarily involve an invasive procedure. If the discomfort is caused by teeth grinding or muscle strain, stress management techniques may give the patient some relief from symptoms. Many patients can manage the pain with over-the-counter medications.
If a structural defect or problem in the jaw is the root cause of the TMJ, the patient may need to consider surgical solutions to resolve the issue. A disc may need to be repaired, or the jaw may need to be realigned with a combination of orthodontic treatment and oral surgery.
Don’t feel that you need to suffer through the troubling symptoms of TMJ disorders. Effective treatments are available. Consult with our skilled team of specialists to determine the specific cause of your TMJ disorder and to explore interventions that may give you some relief.