The temporomandibular joint, known as TMJ for short, consists of muscles, blood vessels, bones, and nerves. TMJ syndrome is a sharp pain in the jaw joint that is caused by a variety of medical problems. If you’re experiencing headaches, ear pain, facial pain, and jaw clicking when you open your mouth, you might have TMJ syndrome.
Continue reading to find out which treatment option is best for you.
Here are the leading causes of TMJ syndrome:
Dental trauma: You probably subject your teeth to trauma daily without knowing it. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, and jaw clenching are the most common causes of trauma. Frequently clenching your jaw joint can change the alignment of your teeth over time. Constantly moving your facial muscles causes the membranes surrounding your joint to inflame.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. As it worsens, it can destroy your cartilage, erode bone, cause joint deformity, and leave you with TMJ syndrome. Unfortunately, young children are disproportionally affected by TMJ syndrome due to rheumatoid arthritis.
Other causes include jaw joint infection, cancer, and bone deformity at birth.
If you have this condition, you will experience ongoing episodes of both sharp and dull pain.
TMJ Syndrome Treatment
If your dentist has determined you have chronic TMJ syndrome, you will need to work with a team of professionals moving forward. You will consult with an orthodontist, oral surgeon, pain specialist, physiotherapist, and a primary care physician. Working with a variety of professionals can help you select the treatment option that’s best for you.
Your dentist or orthodontist can prescribe you medication such as tricyclic antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and painkillers to help alleviate muscle spasms and pain. However, keep in mind these aren’t permanent treatment options, and you should only take them in moderation.
Another option to consider is physical therapy for your jaw joint. Your dentist will send you to a physical therapist who will help you restore your jaw mobility, increase your jaw’s muscle strength, and use techniques to reduce muscle stiffness. Manual therapy procedures can help you loosen your lockjaw, and your therapist will prescribe light exercises to control your jaw’s muscles.
If you follow your physical therapist’s instructions, the joints surrounding your jaw will re-learn their proper motion, and the discomfort associated with TMJ syndrome will decrease or disappear. Unfortunately, physical therapy might not be enough for your condition, especially if it’s permanent.
If other treatments fail, jaw surgery is another option to consider. Surgery is a last resort option because it’s permanent, but there’s no reason to feel intimidated. Fortunately, there are a variety of procedures to consider, ranging from non-invasive to complex ones.
Some jaw surgeries include:
Arthrocentesis: This is an outpatient procedure. Your surgeon will insert a small needle into your jaw joint to lubricate it; it’s the least invasive procedure available.
Modified Condylotomy: This surgery is performed on the mandible to keep the jaw from locking.
Discectomy: Your surgeon will remove the cushioning disc from your jaw joint, and it may need to be wired shut.
Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah
If you think jaw surgery is right for you, contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah. Our board-certified surgeons will provide you with the pain relief you’ve been looking for. Schedule your consultation today.