The term TMJ actually refers to the temporomandibular joint in the human jaw. This is the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of your skull – acting as a hinge. The TMJ connects the jaw in such a way that it allows for up and down, open and close, and side to side movement. It is also primarily responsible for manipulation of speech, yawning, chewing and language. In some instances, people can experience pain or symptoms with the TMJ that is commonly referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMD.
Common Causes of TMJ Disorder or TMD
The primary causes of a TMJ disorder (TMD) can be problems with the joint or the jaw muscles attached to the joint. Commonly, injuries to the head, neck or face can all lead to TMD. Other causes of TMJ Disorder include stress, patterns of clenching or grinding teeth (usually at night), and arthritis pain that cause tightening and clenching of jaw muscles or the face.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMD can be pretty painful or even be the cause of a great deal of discomfort. Symptoms that are commonly referred to contributing to TMD are:
- Clicking or popping jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing jaw
- Pain in face, neck or jaw
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Pain and tenderness in the face, neck or jaw
- Ringing in ears
- Upper shoulder pain
What are my TMJ treatment options?
Before giving any concrete treatment options, it is necessary to call an office for an initial consultation to determine what course of action can be taken and the severity of the condition. Here are some of the ways that Altima Dental can treat your TMD if you live in or around Toronto:
- Over-the-counter medication: We may prescribe the medications to help to relieve the pain or swelling caused by the TMD. We may also suggest exploring lifestyle choices that contribute to relaxing the muscles and decrease instances of clenching or grinding teeth.
- Nightguard: One of the most commonly recommended treatments for TMJ Disorder are custom-molded plastic night guards that fit over the lower or upper teeth. They are designed in such a way to prevent subconscious grinding which typically occurs at night. It can also contribute to an improvement in biting form over time and increase airflow at night.
- Possible Dental Work: Depending on the case, there may be protruding teeth or crowns/bridges that are contributing to pain in the jaw. This will have to be determined in the office during consultation and testing. In very severe circumstances, we may recommend a surgery with an oral surgeon.
- Orthodontic treatment: a misaligned bite, or malocclusion, could be contributing to your jaw pain. Crooked teeth or an irregular bite create traumatic forces which put strain on your jaw joints and cause tooth wear. Correcting your bite is easier than ever with advances in clear aligner therapy.
Muscle Relaxant Injections
If you’ve tried conventional therapies for TMJ pain or migraines with little improvement, you may be a candidate for therapeutic injections of a purified protein (also used to treat wrinkles.) In some patients, injection therapy can relieve chronic jaw pain, tension headaches and migraines caused by TMJ disorders by relaxing overactive muscles. Most patients report feeling little to no discomfort during treatment (comparable to plucking a hair) and results typically last three months or longer. Muscle relaxant injections may be covered under your dental or medical insurance for chronic conditions.
Our doctors are highly experienced in TMJ pain management. At your initial consultation, we will diagnose the root cause of your headaches or facial pain and help find the right treatment to give you lasting relief. We have certified Botox® practitioners at our Annex, Atrium, Royal Bank Plaza, Kingston, Brockville, Port Hope and Erin Mills locations.