Treatment of TMJ Disorders

Pointing to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on a model school

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders often cause discomfort in the cheek, jaw, or ear areas and can affect normal jaw function.

Long life of your teeth as well as your dental work starts with optimum relationship of the jaw joints and how these two joints relate to the position of teeth. Disharmony in the back of the chewing machine, or the jaw joints, will produce disharmony in the front of the machine, the teeth and face. Whether a growing child or an aging grandparent, we all need to chew efficiently and comfortably for a lifetime.

Dr. Tedman will spend time evaluating the joints at your first appointment, particularly the cartilage disc that cushions them, and ascertain that your machine is chewing harmoniously! Trauma in a growing child can disrupt the harmony in the joints, particularly the cartilage disc and cause not only uneven growth in the jaw, but future problems with headaches, malocclusion, head and neck pain and severe open bites.

CAREFUL EVALUATION OF SPORTS INJURIES, WHIPLASH AND OTHER HEAD TRAUMA IS ESSENTIAL TO ASCERTAIN NO DAMAGE HAS NOT BEEN DONE IN A GROWING CHILD. Recapturing the dislocated disc on a growing child can prevent all of the above problems later on in life and is accomplished with oral appliances and imaging of the disc.

In less severe cases TMJ disorders can be treated with self-managed care (eating soft foods, using ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movement) or nonsurgical treatments (anti-inflammatory medications, Botox injections, or stabilization splints). In more severe cases, surgical treatments (jaw joint replacements) may be necessary.

TMJ conditions fall into three main categories:

  • Myofascial pain - discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function (grinding teeth can result in this type of TMJ disorder)
  • Internal derangement of the joint - a possible indicator of a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle
  • Arthritis - a degenerative inflammatory disorder

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders are frequently intensified by stress and can include:

  • Headaches
  • Soreness in the cheek or jaw area
  • Pain in or around the ears
  • Facial pain
  • Tight jaws
  • Popping or clicking sounds when opening mouth
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty chewing