The temporomandibular joint, commonly called the TMJ, is a complex joint that allows your lower jaw to function against the base of your skull. This joint allows movement of your lower jaw to allow it to move smoothly up and down and from side to side. Comprised of so many functional parts — bone, cartilage, muscle, and ligaments — it’s not uncommon for the TMJ to experience issues or develop a disorder. The cartilage, which acts as the cushion for the jaw joint and rests between the jaw bone and skull, is often the cause of such disorders. When it slips out of position, it can result in a misaligned bite, pain, or a clicking/popping noise when you open and close your mouth.
What are symptoms of a TMJ disorder?
The most common signs of a TMJ disorder (TMD) are, as mentioned above, discomfort and popping noises. However, other telltale signs may alert you to the presence of TMJ problems. General symptoms can include
- Pain in the ears, jaw joints, or facial muscles
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth completely
- Trouble eating or chewing certain foods
- Constant headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, or ear ringing
- Jaw locking in the open or closed position
Treatments for TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders are treatable with both surgical and nonsurgical methods, depending on the severity of your condition. When you visit our office for a consultation appointment, one of our oral surgeons will perform a thorough examination and review your health history before developing a personalized treatment plan. Nonsurgical methods are always exhausted before advancing to surgical options. Examples of nonsurgical treatment can include
- Occlusal adjustments or splint therapy
- Physical therapy
- Warm, moist heat
- Change to a soft, no-chew diet
- Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol®
If these options prove ineffective, we will likely consider and determine a surgical plan for treatment, which may consist of
- TMJ arthroscopy
- Joint reconstruction
- Orthognathic surgery
- Combination of above
TMJ Disorder Treatment at Oral & Facial Surgeons of Illinois
With so many possible causes of and available treatments for a TMJ disorder, it’s important to contact one of our offices as soon as possible if you experience symptoms. Our team will take the time to get to know you, your condition, and your treatment goals to ensure you have a positive experience and achieve optimal results.