TMJ Problems and How to Treat Them

What is TMJ?

TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint which connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the bone at the side of your head (temporal bone). When someone has a temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, they may experience pain in the jaw joint and muscles, stiffness, limited opening, clicking and popping of the joint when opening or closing, and sometimes a change in how the upper and lower teeth overlap. The exact cause of TMJ disorder is not known, although trauma to the jaw or joint may play a role and it can be more prevalent in those with higher stress levels.


How is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis would be made from a detailed medical and dental history, an examination of the head, neck, face, and jaw, and from radiographic images such as a Panorex or CT Scan which would show changes in the joint.


How is it Treated?

There are simple steps that a patient can take to alleviate the symptoms. These include eating soft foods, avoiding extreme joint movements such as wide yawning and gum chewing, and jaw relaxation exercises. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, as well as muscle relaxants can also provide relief from discomfort.

Other treatment options include use of a biteguard, occlusal adjustment to balance the dental bite,   use of a TENS unit to relax overstimulation of the involved muscles, and massage therapy with a physical therapist. And of course, whatever you can do to decrease stress in your life will help as well.