Our experienced dentist, Edward Shukovsky, DMD, offers a number of treatment options that can help relieve discomfort from problems associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Commonly referred to as TMJ disorder or TMD, the condition is centered in the jaw area, but can cause chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms in other regions of the body. Fortunately, advanced treatment from Dr. Shukovsky and our skilled dental team can address TMJ disorder and often provide long-lasting relief from this common condition.
- What Is TMJ Disorder?
- TMD Symptoms
- TMD Causes
- TMJ Disorder Treatment Options
- Additional TMJ Disorder FAQs
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder occurs when the jaw’s temporomandibular joint becomes inflamed, misaligned, or impaired to some degree. The temporomandibular joint essentially functions as a hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw, which allows us to properly bite and chew food, yawn, and speak. When the joint is compromised by TMJ disorder, individuals can suffer from discomfort, pain, and other symptoms that can range from mild to severe in different regions of the body. Many people who have TMJ disorder do not realize that the symptoms they are experiencing could be related to a problem with the temporomandibular joint.
What Are the Causes of TMJ Disorder?
A number of conditions can lead to the development of TMJ disorder, and the exact cause of TMD is often distinct from one individual to another. In some cases, the condition may be caused by several factors in combination. Some of the more common causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Muscle imbalance
- Malocclusion (poor bite)
- Bruxism (clenching/grinding of the teeth)
- Breakdown of cartilage
- Autoimmune disease
- Emotional/physical stressors
- Scar tissue
- Impairment of surrounding muscles
- Injury/trauma to the face
- Overuse of the joint
- Jaw anatomy
A diagnosis of TMJ disorder from Dr. Shukovsky may be able to isolate the cause, or causes, of the condition. With a proper diagnosis, we can help you explore the most ideal treatment options to reduce the effects of TMJ disorder.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder can cause a number of problems that lead to pain and discomfort in various areas of the body. These symptoms include:
- A clicking or popping sensation in the jaw
- Problems with chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty completely opening and closing the mouth
- Facial pain
- Discomfort in the back, neck, and/or shoulders
- Numbness in the upper extremities (arms and/or fingers)
TMJ Disorder Treatment Options
There are many treatment options available that can help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorder. They include:
- Oral night guards or day guards
- Oral appliances that can help realign the bite
- Orthodontic treatment with braces/retainers
- Restorative dental procedures
- Oral surgery
Many patients who have TMJ disorder are experiencing symptoms that may seem unrelated to the condition, and therefore do not realize that there are treatment options available. Dr. Shukovsky offers a number of treatments designed to alleviate your symptoms and help you get through your day with a significant reduction in pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorder.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder
Why does TMJ disorder affect other areas of the body?
When the temporomandibular joint becomes impaired, the muscles in other areas of the head and neck often have to work overtime to make up for the deficiency. This puts extra stress on regions that may not even be close to the jaw joint. Plus, as a TMJ inflammation begins to spread, it can add pressure to nerve branches that lead to other areas of the head, as well as the neck, back, and shoulders. This is ultimately how a problem centered in the joint that connects the jaw can affect so many other body areas and result in so many seemingly unrelated symptoms.
How long does TMJ last?
In some cases, the symptoms from TMJ disorder may last for a fairly short duration—a few weeks or perhaps even just a few days—depending on the cause. For other individuals, symptoms could last several months or years. This is typically due to the reasons why TMJ disorder has developed. A jaw injury that has led to TMJ disorder may result in symptoms that manifest for only a brief period of time, while ongoing conditions such as bruxism or arthritis may lead to TMJ disorder symptoms that last for a very long time. With effective treatment, the symptoms of TMJ disorder can often be addressed and minimized.
Will TMJ disorder resolve on its own?
For some individuals, TMJ disorder may resolve on its own. For others, the symptoms are simply too debilitating to wait, and the problem may be caused by structural irregularities or other issues that result in no improvement of the condition over time. If you believe you are suffering from TMJ disorder, it is best to seek a professional evaluation to determine the cause and explore whether treatment will be necessary.
Do jaw exercises for TMJ work?
While jaw exercises will not likely reduce active TMJ pain in any significant way, some types of jaw exercises may be helpful in the prevention of the pain returning once it has subsided. Dr. Shukovsky can provide you with recommendations on some basic, gentle exercises and relaxation techniques that may be useful. TMJ home remedies such as the application of hot or cold packs may provide some individuals with a certain amount of relief from discomfort, and minimizing consumption of specific types of food that require a lot of chewing may also help in some cases. However, it is important to note that these options typically only result in short-term relief. A professional diagnosis and treatment for TMJ disorder is usually necessary to identify the cause and provide options for long-term reduction of symptoms.
If you feel you may be experiencing the symptoms of TMJ disorder, please contact Edward Shukovsky, DMD for more information on treatment options, or to schedule an appointment. Dr. Shukovsky can talk with you about your symptoms and help determine a treatment plan that is right for your needs.