The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. It permits the lower jaw to move and function. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are not uncommon. Individuals with a TMJ disorder may experience a variety of symptoms, such as earaches, headaches and limited ability to open their mouth.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it possible that I could need treatment for TMJ disorder?
There are some signs and symptoms that could indicate the need to visit your surgeon:
When symptoms of the TMJ trouble appear, please arrange for a consultation with our oral and maxillofacial surgeons to correctly diagnose your condition. Diagnosing TMJ disorders can be complex and may require special imaging studies of the joints. Often we also ask the help of other practitioners in dentistry, medicine, and/or physical therapy to allow you to cope with your TMJ disorder (TMD).
What type of treatments are possible for TMJ disorder?
Treatment may range from conservative dental and medical care to complex surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include short-term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy, and the help of our local physical therapists. Sometimes stressful factors in your life may limit the effectiveness of these conservative therapies .
Will I need surgery?
If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is clear joint damage, surgery may be indicated. Surgery can involve either arthrocentesis (washing out the TMJ and injecting steroids), or arthroscopy (the method identical to the orthopaedic surgery used to inspect and treat larger joints such as the knee). Seldom is it necessary for open joint surgery, as this is reserved for patients with chronic debilitating pain, or with some form of pathology in the TMJ.
Whether for non-surgical or surgical treatment; chronic TMJ pain may never go away completely without life-style modifications and intermittent regular treatment. Our surgeons care for your quality of life and understand that TMJ disorders may be debilitating at times.
DID YOU KNOW…
that TMJ disorders can occur at any point in life, but that they are most commonly diagnosed in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years old? The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons also reports that TMJ disorders are far more common among women than men. Though there is no way of knowing exactly how many people suffer from TMJ disorders (many go undiagnosed), the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that approximately 10 million people in the U.S. currently suffer with TMJ conditions.