TMJ disorder is a common cause of oral pain and compromised oral functions, but few people know much about this condition, which affects the temporomandibular joint. Here, Drs. Jason and Alex Hecht, DDS, of Staten Island Aesthetic and Implant Dentist, provide their Staten Island, NY, patients with answers to TMJ FAQ, including information regarding its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What Is the TMJ?
The TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is the hinge that connects the upper jaw to the skull. The joint allows for fluid movement of the jaw, including up and down motion, forward and backward motion, and side to side motion. As long as the TMJ is properly aligned, people can bite, chew, talk, yawn, and swallow with ease.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder is a condition that is characterized by discomfort stemming from issues with the temporomandibular joint. If the TMJ is poorly aligned, is stiff, or does not move smoothly, individuals may experience a number of symptoms, including limited movement of the jaw.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
There are several different factors that can contribute to TMJ disorder for our Staten Island patients. Potential TMJ disorder causes include:
- Malocclusion problems
- Bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching)
- Head or oral trauma (i.e. jaw or facial injury)
- Excessive gum chewing or other bad dental habits
- Arthritis within the jaw joint
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Just as there are numerous conditions that can contribute to TMJ disorder, there are many different symptoms that may develop as a result of TMJ disorder. Some of the most common TMJ disorder symptoms include:
- Frequent headaches
- Facial pain
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Limited jaw movement (being unable to open or close the jaw fully, difficulty chewing, etc.)
- Lockjaw, when the jaw gets frozen in the open or shut position
- Popping sounds when biting, chewing, or opening/closing the mouth
How Is TMJ Disorder Treated?
TMJ disorder may be treated in several different ways. For some, at-home treatments such as relaxation techniques, massage, warm compresses, and avoidance of hard, crunchy, and/or chewy foods may be enough to alleviate TMJ symptoms. However, professional TMJ treatment is necessary to address the underlying causes of TMJ disorder. Our dentists customize treatment based on each patient’s unique needs, the cause of TMJ disorder, and the degree of the condition.
TMJ disorder treatment options include orthodontic treatment to address malocclusion problems, the use of a custom mouth guard to align the jaw and prevent grinding/clenching, physical therapy/jaw exercises, and other neuromuscular dentistry techniques. In the most severe cases, patients may be candidates for jaw surgery, though most find relief from less invasive treatment measures.
Will TMJ Treatment Eliminate My TMJ Symptoms?
At-home TMJ treatments can provide temporary relief of TMJ symptoms, including facial pain and headaches. Professional TMJ treatment addresses the cause of TMJ disorder to improve jaw functions and provide long-term relief from TMJ disorder symptoms.
If you suspect that you are suffering from TMJ disorder, and would like to learn more about diagnosis and treatment, Drs. Alex and Jason Hecht would be happy to answer any further questions you may have. To set up a consultation at our Staten Island practice or get information about our dental services, send us a message online, or call (718) 705-4434 at your earliest convenience.