The TMJ disorder is not a specific condition or disease but a general term that relates to issues of the temporomandibular joints.
Temporomandibular joints are hinge joints that are located in front of your ears on either side of your head. These joints connect your lower jaw to your skull and are responsible for rotating and moving your jaw sideward, backward and forward. In combination with ligaments and muscles, these joints allow us to speak, chew, yawn and swallow. If this joint has a problem, you may have TMD or a temporomandibular joint disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Temporomandibular disorders may manifest in the form of tenderness and pain around the ears or in the jaw joint. You may also experience aching facial muscles, jaw, and temples. Some other issues include problems in opening and closing your mouth, chewing, aligning your bite, and a clicking, grinding, popping, or crunching noise when moving your jaw. TMD may also be associated with headaches and neck pain. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Kevin Kay and at Kevin Kay DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
The exact cause of TMD is not known. In most cases, temporomandibular disorders may be caused by a combination of factors like trauma to the jaw and chronic bone diseases, like arthritis. People who suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding may worsen symptoms of TMD. Severe stress, poor alignment of the teeth and tumors in the jaw may also lead to TMD.
Sometimes, bad lifestyle habits like chewing on ice and biting on fingernails may also cause TMD. Research also suggests that women are three times more susceptible to TMJ disorders, since their joint collagen makeup is different from men. Hormones like estrogen may also have a role in TMD.
TMJ Disorder Treatments
At Kevin Kay DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we will conduct a thorough examination of your jaw, including taking the appropriate x-trays, to diagnose TMJ disorder.
We may then suggest a treatment plan that includes referrals to a physiotherapist or relaxation exercises. We may also prescribe you medication to manage pain, inflammation, and tense muscles.
One of the most common treatment options includes using an occlusal splint or a night mouthguard. This is a custom-fitted plastic device that fits over the upper and lower arches of your teeth and prevents your opposing teeth from meeting. An occlusal splint distributes the pressure of your bite, and its shock-absorbing plastic helps to relax jaw muscles. Depending on your medical history, we may recommend you get an occlusal splint to wear.
Surgery is rarely used and not recommended when it comes to TMJ disorders. However, if none of the treatments work, you may be left with no other choice. Note, however, that surgery directly on the jaw joint carries numerous risks, may result in scarring, and may even worsen the symptoms rather than fixing them.
If you are recommended surgery, make sure you get a second opinion at Kevin Kay DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.
If you experience inexplicable persistent pain in your jaw, call us at (425) 738-8476 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Kevin Kay can identify the issue and suggest possible treatment options for you.