The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short, is one of the most complex joints in the body. This complex series of ligaments, muscles, discs, and bones serve as a hinge-like mechanism that connects the upper and lower jaws. Our TMJ allows us to move our lower jaw up, down, and side-to-side. Any problem that prevents the TMJ from working properly is known as a TMJ disorder or TMD. At New York Oral, Maxillofacial, and Implant Surgery, we offer treatment designed to alleviate the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
The exact cause of TMD is difficult to pinpoint because the symptoms are often related to other problems. Drs. Orentlicher, Horowitz and Steinberg will review your medical and dental histories, as well as conduct a comprehensive examination to help make a proper diagnosis. Your exam may include x-rays, CBCT scans, and 3D imaging.
Most professionals believe TMD symptoms are the result of several factors, including injuries, arthritis, genetics, and issues within the muscles or parts of the joint itself. TMJ disorders are quite common for people who habitually clench or grind their teeth. Teeth grinding is also referred to as bruxism. Bruxism is often a response to stress or anxiety.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders can have many symptoms that affect one or both sides of your face. The biggest indicator is often pain and discomfort when using your jaw. TMJ pain can be temporary or long term. It is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 40.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
Treatments for TMJ Disorders
You should seek treatment if you have persistent tenderness, pain, or problems using your jaw. During your appointment, Drs. Orentlicher, Horowitz and Steinberg will discuss your possible treatment options. One of the most common non-drug therapies involves an oral splint or mouthguard, also known as an occlusal appliance. An occlusal appliance will reduce the harmful effects of bruxism while you sleep. Your appliance will be custom-made for your bite to provide a comfortable and effective fit.
We may also recommend training or counseling to help you better understand the behavior and factors that result in stress-related habits. Stress-related habits, such as biting your fingernails and clenching your jaw, can significantly contribute to your TMD.
Initially, we commonly recommend that patients maintain a soft diet without chewing of hard/firm foods and try to rest their jaw. Muscle spasms and pain can be reduced with a warm compress and over-the-counter pain relievers. For stronger relief, we may recommend prescription medications like muscle relaxants. If these methods prove ineffective, you may require a further examination, possibly with an MRI to examine your Temporomandibular Joint.
A small percentage of TMD patients may have evidence of anatomic problems within their TMJ's (so called "Internal Derangements.") These anatomic problems may be disc displacements, scarring, or other degenerative processes. For these patients, the TMD evaluation may additionally include CT scans or MRI's. If indicated, there are various procedures that can be performed on the TMJ, most minimally invasive, that can provide these patients with increased mobility and function, and relief from discomfort. Learn about other treatments involving administering botox to treat TMJ.
Schedule Your Appointment
Find out if you need treatment for your TMJ! Call (914) 768-8220 to schedule your appointment today.