TMJ Treatment Solutions

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorders are problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you ever had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important. No singular, specific treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely. Treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Shannon and Dr. Hunter can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw. To arrange a TMJ consultation with one of our doctors, please call us at Reading Office Phone Number 978-682-5255.

Trouble with your Jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, which tightens your jaw muscles and stresses your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly and stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the cushion of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the symptoms may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking or grating noise when opening your mouth.

Do you have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth touch differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes,” the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

Treatment

TMJ Surgery Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the TMJ surgery process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about TMJ surgery.

TMJ Surgery Overview

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There are various treatment options that our doctors at Northeast Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, our doctors will determine the proper course of treatment for you. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care joined with professional care.

The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. These are usually accomplished with pain relievers, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments are also effective as well and include:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying ice and heat
  • Exercising your jaw
  • Practicing good posture

Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or night-guard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A night-guard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night, helping to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieving pressure on parts of your jaw and aids in disk repositioning. It may be worn 24 hours/day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic stabilization appliance can be worn 24 hours/day or just at night to move your jaw into proper position.

What about Bite Correction or Surgery?

If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment, such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options, such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes needed, but are reserved for severe cases. Our doctors rarely consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw is unable to open, is dislocated and non-reducible, has severe degeneration or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.