Grinding of the teeth, or bruxism, can certainly be an annoyance, potentially interfering with a spouse or partner’s sleep. However, the condition can have more serious implications for the patient, with wide-ranging effects on the patient’s oral health. In fact, bruxism may be a sign of a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Other symptoms of TMJ include popping or cracking sounds during chewing or when opening and closing the mouth, significant discomfort in the muscles of the jaw and facial pain, earaches and headaches and locking of the jaw.
Patients may initially seek treatment for TMJ through a general dentist and attempt to manage the symptoms through conservative measures such as medications, exercises and stress management. However, when the condition does not respond to less invasive measures, the patient may need to consult with an oral surgeon to explore other options.
In cases when damage to the jaw or a degenerative condition is creating the conditions responsible for the TMJ disorder, an oral surgeon may be able to repair that damage. Misaligned jaws can contribute to TMJ disorders, as well, and this problem too may be corrected surgically, potentially in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.
Even when surgery is necessary to address a TMJ disorder, the procedure doesn’t necessarily have to result in highly visible scars. The surgeon may be able to locate the incisions in areas that can be readily concealed, such as directly in front of the ear.
Your surgeon will also discuss sedation and anesthesia options with you to ensure your maximum comfort during the procedure. The surgeon will give you detailed pre-operative and post-operative instructions, as well. Following these directions may minimize your risk of complications during or after the procedure.
We encourage patients who may be facing surgical treatment for a TMJ disorder to speak with one of our experienced oral surgeons about their options and to learn more details about the procedure. You may be able to get relief from bruxism as well as the other symptoms of TMJ problems. Contact Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule your informative consultation.