TMJ Disorders in Houston, TX

Disorders of the temporomandibular joint can have a negative impact on your quality of life. The pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can vary from mild to severe, and the treatment plan depends on the cause and the severity of the disorder.

If you are experiencing jaw pain that could be caused by a TMJ disorder, your dentist can help determine if you can be treated in a dental office or need a physician to look into the problem..

What Is a TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorders are problems that occur in the joint that allow the mouth to open and close. This joint plays an integral role in a person’s ability to speak. Together with the muscles and ligaments in the jaw area, well-functioning temporomandibular joints are also necessary for chewing and swallowing.

This area’s structure is surprisingly complex and allows the jaw to glide back and forth, rotate, and open and close. Any interference in this process can cause debilitating pain or difficulty with movement.

What Are the Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder?

A TMJ disorder can have varying symptoms and can be mistaken for other dental health conditions. If you experience any symptoms that could be attributed to a temporomandibular joint disorder, it is important to disclose this information to your dentist for a proper diagnosis.

  • Frequent headaches or achy neck
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Ear pain or pain in surrounding areas
  • Pain in the jaw that intensifies when making a chewing motion
  • Increased difficulty when opening and closing the jaw
  • A noisy jaw that clicks or pops when opening or closing
  • Chronic tooth or gum pain that has no discernable source

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

Sometimes a disorder of the temporomandibular joint develops for no known reason. In other cases, it is the result of a known event. Some individuals are born with structural anomalies that increase the risk of developing a TMJ disorder later in life, so these patients should be monitored regularly for symptoms.

Some of the most common suspected causes of TMJ disorders stem from either injury or repetitive motion of the jaw.

  • Dislocation or trauma of the jaw
  • Development of arthritis
  • Misalignment of the bite
  • Grinding of the teeth due to stress or other factors

What Is the Treatment Plan?

Most if not all TMJ disorders can be treated by a dentist, sometimes the patient may need the help of an oral surgeon or medical doctor. The least-invasive technique should be attempted first in the hopes that you can find relief with minimal correction. The first step in a treatment plan is to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Scheduling a consultation with a qualified and experienced dentist can help you determine whether your symptoms are originating in the joint or are referred from other areas of the mouth. Your dentist can check bite alignment and take x-rays of the teeth and jaw to see if there are any obvious physical problems.

Once you receive a diagnosis, the dentist can recommend a course of treatment or choose to recommend treatment through a physician instead. In many cases, the treatment also involves behavioral changes that necessitate a therapist, physical therapist, or psychologist’s assistance.

Some physical conditions can also contribute to the worsening of TMJ disorder symptoms or generalized mouth pain, such as chronic sinus infections. Your physician also needs to treat any contributing conditions before TMJ disorder treatment can be successfully implemented.

No course of treatment is standardized for all patients suffering from this type of disorder, so it is important to find a care team that can customize your plan for the best results. The plan may consist of behavioral changes combined with dental or medical treatments.

Sometimes pain from TMJ disorders goes away over time without treatment, but other times it can persist and become more intense. Simple changes can be implemented first, with additional treatment added as necessary.

  • Avoid repetitive jaw movements, such as chewing gum or biting the nails
  • Avoid crunchy foods, opting for soft foods instead when possible
  • Avoid chewing anything non-food items, such as pen caps, pencil erasers, or ice
  • Use heat compresses to reduce inflammation in the jaw and reduce pain
  • Try meditation techniques and practice relaxing the jaw muscles
  • Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles in the jaw
  • Use a device provided by your dentist, such as a bite guard or a mouthpiece to use at night
  • Try medication for pain, inflammation, or anxiety as prescribed by your physician

Schedule a TMJ Analysis With Your Dentist

Temporomandibular joint disorders can be painful and life-altering, so if you have developed symptoms you believe could be attributed to this condition, it is important to let your dentist know during your next scheduled appointment.

Although there is no existing set treatment plan for this type of disorder, your dentist can help you determine which behavioral modifications could be helpful. In some cases, such as pain caused by teeth grinding, your dentist can provide you a custom device to modify this habit.

You do not have to live with the pain of a TMJ disorder, so if you are in the Houston, TX area, and have any questions, contact us online or call (713) 795-5905 to schedule a consultation.

 

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Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Shidlovski