pexels-photo-262218-200x300Do you experience facial pain? Perhaps your jaw feels tight or makes popping sounds when you open and close your mouth. These symptoms are common side effects of TMJ dysfunction. This condition causes noticeable reduction in oral function along with discomfort in the form of headaches and orofacial pain. Patients with damaged or overworked TMJs present a variety of symptoms so it is important to have regular oral health checkups with your dentist. If your dentist suspects TMJ dysfunction, he or she may recommend treatment like restorations to rebuild your bite, stress reduction techniques, or a visit to an oral surgeon for a consultation.

What is the TMJ?

The TMJ is a joint that facilitates all mouth movement. Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are located on each side of the face just beneath the earlobe. The TMJ connects the lower mandible (jawbone) to the skull.

What causes TMJ disorder?

Many issues can cause TMJ disorder. The TMJ can dysfunction when it is overworked due to malocclusions, worn dentition, and bruxism. Damage from facial trauma can also contribute to TMJ disorder.

What are the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

The most common symptoms associated with TMJ disorder are clicking or popping sensations during mouth movement, pain near the TMJ and surrounding facial muscles, and recurring headaches. In severe cases of TMJ disorder, patients’ TMJs can “lock up” making mouth movement difficult or impossible at times. Other symptoms of TMJ issues can include untimely tooth wear – especially along the back teeth. Patients with tooth wear and those who grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) have increased risks for developing TMJ problems.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

Minor to moderate TMJ dysfunction can be improved with restorations to rebuild worn teeth and subsequently improve the occlusion. Sometimes, orthodontic treatment might be recommended to improve the alignment of teeth during oral function as well. Dentists might prescribe custom oral appliances called nightguards to relieve stress on the TMJ and prevent bruxism during rest. In severe cases, patients might require surgical procedures to correct jaw alignment or damage to the TMJ.

If you have been referred to our practice, call us at Austin Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery to reserve a consultation with one of our oral surgeons.