Understanding Common TMJ Disorders

Do you feel like something’s not quite right with your jaw? Do you feel a persistent soreness in the area surrounding your jaw joint, or feel an annoying clicking sensation when you chew? If so, you could have a common problem called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMJ disorder symptoms can be irritating and painful and even interfere with daily activities. Fortunately, Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery offers treatments for common temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.

What Is TMJ/TMD?

You have two temporomandibular joints: one on either side of the skull. TMJ is the joint capsule, ligaments, bone and other tissues that compose the joint connecting the mandible to the skull. TMD is a disorder of the muscles and other parts that form the joints.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of joint disorders, including:
  • Chronic teeth grinding or clenching (also known as bruxism)
  • Arthritis in the jaw joint
  • Improper movement of the disc (soft cushion) that sits between the joint’s ball and socket
  • Excessive stress, which can cause tension in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint

It’s estimated that TMJ disorder affects more than 10 million adults in the United States alone. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they have the condition until symptoms become highly uncomfortable and pronounced.

What Are Symptoms of Joint Disorders?

Joint disorders can have many different symptoms. Some are generally mild, while others can prevent normal oral function.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms to watch for if you suspect you may have problems with your temporomandibular joint:
  • Pain around the jaw joint
  • Sensitivity around the ear, mouth, neck or shoulders
  • Discomfort when chewing or speaking
  • Crackling or popping noises with jaw movement
  • Muscle spasms along the jaw
  • Frequent tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

One of the most severe symptoms of jaw joint problems is locking of the jaw. This happens when the jaw becomes painfully locked or stuck in a closed or open position. Surgery may be required to restore proper function of the jaw joint.

What Are My Treatment Options?

You have several options when it comes to treating your jaw joint issues. In some cases, minor symptoms can be treated at home with ice packs, muscle relaxants and splints. In other cases, bite adjustment treatments and orthodontics (with or without restorative dental work) may be recommended to correct how the teeth fit together. Oral surgery is generally reserved for the most severe cases.

Contact Us

Do you think you may have problems with your temporomandibular joint? If so, please request an appointment online or call us today and schedule your consultation.