Also Serving Evanston & Skokie
Your temporomandibular joint is remarkably complex, and key to so many vital functions. To speak, eat or smile, you rely on an efficiently operating joint. You also expect it to carry you through great meals and conversations without causing searing pain or headaches.
Finding the Cause of TMD
Patients who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder — abbreviated as TMJ, TMJD or TMD — experience severe, chronic pain that often worsens with stress. Because the cause can be elusive and symptoms are not consistent for all sufferers, TMJ was once not given the serious consideration it deserves. Some considered it not a condition rooted in the jaw, but rather in the mind. But a series of studies of TMJ over the years has demonstrated that the condition is very real, creating pain, distress and inconvenience for millions.
Possible causes of TMJ include arthritis, habitual grinding of the teeth, dislocation resulting from injury or trauma, scar tissue that interferes with the bite, infections, autoimmune disease and genetic predisposition. There is also a close correlation between stress and TMJ flare-ups. People who face high levels of daily stress (and have not learned how to manage the stress effectively) tend to clench and grind the teeth throughout the day, and even while sleeping. Not only can this constant movement wear away enamel and trigger misalignment of teeth, it can also place incredible stress on the jaw and its muscles. When this becomes chronic, TMJ can be the result.
Easing the Pain with TMJ Disorder Treatment
TMJ pain originates in the jaw but may radiate to other facial areas, the neck, ears and even the shoulders. In addition to pain, persons may experience popping or clicking sensations when the joint is in motion, difficulty opening the mouth or chewing, a feeling that the jaw is locking, facial swelling, tooth sensitivity, headaches, earaches, or malocclusion, which is a misalignment of the bite. This change in the bite is sometimes caused by repositioning of teeth; when teeth drift in the mouth, they may force the jaw to adjust by moving the temporomandibular joint out of its socket. Restoring the bite to its proper alignment can be an important first step in treating TMJ.
Additional TMD Treatments
Other treatment options include muscle relaxants, occlusal appliances such as mouth guards or oral splints, physical therapy focused on exercising the jaw muscles, ultrasound treatment, stress management, corticosteroid injections and arthrocentesis, which involves insertion of needles into the joint to remove debris or substances that may be interfering with jaw function.
Less commonly, invasive solutions are tried. Arthroscopy can help check the condition of the joints and allow repairs to be made. Arthrotomy is open-joint surgery, and could be advised if TMJ is caused by a structural issue. Alternately, a condylotomy can be performed to repair damage to the mandible, instead of the joint. This option is considered in cases where patients report locking of the jaw.
For more information on TMJ or to schedule an appointment in our Chicago office, call (773) 973-0531 or email Contos Smile Center today.
We are dedicated to providing the highest level of service and quality to our patient community by cultivating strong relationships, communicating thoughtful treatment solutions, and providing an enjoyable atmosphere, we can empower our patients to take ownership of their oral health.
We are committed to researching and offering state-of-the-art dental solutions in order to deliver the most advanced treatment options to our patients.