TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your jaw joint. The jaw joint consists of five main anatomical portions: the condyle, the disc, muscular attachments, the capsule, and the fossa. Derangements in any of these structures may result in pain, popping or clicking noises, hearing disturbances, headaches, or changes in your bite.
Interestingly, the relationship between the degree of radiographic (x-ray) joint degeneration and clinical symptoms is not well established. That is, extensive x-ray destruction of the TMJ may be associated with little to no pain or physical impairment whereas a patient with a normal TMJ x-ray may experience significant pain or jaw dysfunction.
We will perform a thorough head and neck examination to determine the etiology of your TMJ concerns. Occasionally, symptoms thought to originate from the TMJ may arise from surrounding structures.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
Answering yes to any of these questions may suggest an underlying TMJ disorder.
There are various treatment options for TMJ that Dr. Jundt can utilize to improve the function of your jaw joint. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Jundt will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care combined with professional care.
Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or nightguard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night. It also helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieves pressure on parts of your jaw, and aids in disk repositioning.