TMJ Disorder Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short, works like a hinge to connect the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone of the skull. Muscles around the joint cause it to open and close, allowing people to talk and chew food. Problems affecting the TMJ are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or TMJ disorders.

Patients that have developed a TMJ disorder may suffer from severe pain that is temporary or permanent, in some cases lasting many years. The disorder can affect a patient’s ability to eat and speak. TMJ disorders are more common in women and are most commonly seen in people between the ages of 20 and 40.

The dentists at our Livingston cosmetic dentistry practice treat TMJ disorders. Dr. David Silverstrom and Dr. Gary Silverstrom are experienced in diagnosing TMJ and finding a suitable treatment for the condition. In many cases, our patients have more pain-free and comfortable lives after seeking treatment for TMJ at The Silverstrom Group.

TMJ Symptoms

The most common TMJ disorder symptom is severe pain and discomfort in the jaw.

Other symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, and in or around the ear when speaking, chewing, or opening the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Reduced ability to open the mouth wide
  • Jaw that locks or gets stuck while closed or open
  • A popping or clicking sound in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth

TMJ Causes

While the exact cause of TMJ disorders is not clear, a strong blow to the jaw or whiplash from a car accident or other incident is often blamed for injuring the muscles of the jaw and the jaw joint itself.

Other common causes of TMJ include:

  • Teeth clenching or grinding, which puts pressure on the jaw joint
  • Dislocation of the disc or soft cushion of tissue between the ball and socket of the jaw
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw
  • Stress that causes tightening of the jaw and facial muscles

TMJ Treatments

There is a wide variety of effective treatments for TMJ, ranging from self-care practices that are easy to do at home to injections of medications and even surgery.

Common TMJ treatments include:

  • Applying a warm compress to the area of pain
  • Use of a mouth guard while sleeping
  • Eating softer foods
  • Injections of anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone
  • Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or invisalign®, to adjust the bite
  • Dental restorations, such as crowns, to align the bite
  • Dental restorations, such as dentures, dental bridges, or dental implants, to replace missing teeth and correct the patient's bite
  • Surgery to flush out and cleanse the TMJ
  • Surgery to replace the damaged joint with implants

Contact Our Livingston Cosmetic Dentistry Practice

If you are living with the pain of TMJ disorders, there may be a way to improve your condition. There are numerous treatments available that can help reduce the severe pain and discomfort caused by TMJ, helping you eat, speak, and live without jaw pain. Our Livingston TMJ dentists have experience diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. Contact us today for a free consultation.