TMJ

The Temporomandibular Joint, your “jaw joint,” is one of the most complex joints in the body.  Your jaw moves up and down, it moves forward, back, and side to side, all controlled by an intricate network of muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue.

When these delicately-balanced temporomandibular joints, chewing muscles or articular discs work incorrectly, the jaw joints often misalign and “pop” or “lock,” muscles frequently cramp or go into spasms, and nerve pain can occur. Left unresolved, this results in tissue damage and muscle tenderness.

Causes

An injury to the jaw, face or neck can cause the disruption of the jaw joint leading to TMJ disorder. These injuries are often part of a larger picture –  example, an automobile accident or blow to the jaw – and the TMJ injury emerges later. General anesthesia and endoscopic procedures can also be significant contributing factors. Genetic patterns and other triggering diseases, like arthritis, or diseases that affect musculature of the body, like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, often trigger TMJ disorder. Stress can often be a factor in causing or worsening TMJ disorder. Many people fall into the habit of “clenching” their teeth, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Others may grind (gnash) their teeth, most usually in their sleep. The term for this is bruxism. Clenching and grinding are an unnatural strain on the jaw muscles. That strain causes the muscles to go into spasm, a painful muscle contraction, and can trigger TMJ syndrome

Symptoms

TMJ symptoms include pain, “locking” of the jaw, headaches and often an inability to open and close the mouth properly, even when chewing. When  the “chewing muscles” and the jaw joint work incorrectly, your teeth don’t come together properly, and the whole balance of your jaw is thrown off. You might feel your jaw popping or locking. This imbalance causes the muscles to cramp or go into spasms. This ends in a cycle of damage, pain and tenderness. Because of the many nerves in this area of the body, TMJ disorder can cause horrible pain and headaches.

Treatment Options

After a person who experiences TMJ symptoms has been evaluated and diagnosed, an individualized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatments vary for each patient, but they are divided into two stages with specific goals.

Stage One

Eliminate pain, stabilize jaw position and normalize muscle activity.

Stage Two

Adjust the bite, correcting bite problems and orthodontics.

Diet Alterations

A soft diet of cooked whole grains and vegetables, eggs, cheeses and fish put less strain on the jaw compared to salads, apples, hard breads and steak. Avoid chewing gum and ice.

Sleep Position

Sleeping on your back is the best position to begin eliminating some pain and habits causing TMJ.

Habits

Being consciously aware of your jaw position—lips together, teeth apart—not resting your chin on your hand, and prohibiting your jaw from opening too wide when yawning will have a positive impact on habits that cause TMJ pain.

Physical therapies

Patients can be taught ways to relieve pains and correct muscle problems on their own. Additional muscle massages and exercises may be recommended by trained therapists.

Orthodontics

Appliances fitted to your bite and misalignment created.

Prescriptions

Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants and muscle relaxants may be prescribed as part of the treatment.

Botox

Botox treatment reduces the muscle movement that produces the severe headaches and pain from TMJ. This treatment is an efficient and effective non-surgical option for patients.

Surgery

In extreme cases, the muscle spasms have occurred for an extended period of time, and the joints may have become injured or arthritic, or the bones and soft tissues don’t align as a result of an injury or accident.

Call Advanced Lisle Dental today to make an appointment (630)271-9999

 

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