Alleviate Pain and Ensure Proper Jaw Joint Function
Alleviate Pain and Ensure Proper Jaw Joint Function
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, connects the jaw bone to the skull. You have one joint on either side of your face located in front of the ear. This jaw is critical to the proper function of your mouth for eating, speaking, and breathing. When there is a jaw joint disorder, you may experience pain or be unable to fully operate the jaw.
At Utah Surgical Arts, our board-certified oral surgeons help manage TMJ disorders with a variety of treatment options. If you experience jaw joint pain or believe you have a TMJ disorder, we invite you to contact our offices in Provo, Payson, South Jordan, or Lehi today.
Signs and Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder
The exact cause of a TMJ disorder is difficult to determine. It could be a result of genetics, arthritis, injury, or any combination of these. People who clench or grind their teeth, called bruxism, may develop problems with the TMJ due to continuous stress on the joint. A small, shock-absorbing disk cushions the joint. Some TMJ disorders are a result of this disk eroding or slipping out of place.
You will often know if you have a TMJ disorder because you will experience discomfort and one or many of these symptoms:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing the mouth
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to fully open or close the mouth
- Difficulty or pain when chewing
- Pain in or around the ear
- Pain or tenderness in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
Some people experience jaw clicking or a grating sensation when moving the jaw, but do not feel pain. If you can fully move your mouth without pain, even if your jaw pops or clicks, you may not need treatment for a TMJ disorder.
If your jaw is tender and painful to move, or if it locks and you’re unable to fully open or close it, contact Utah Surgical Arts right away. Our surgeons can provide relief and will evaluate your TMJ to determine the right treatment.
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
Prior to undergoing treatment, you will meet with one of our board-certified surgeons during the consultation. We may take 3D scans to assess the jaw joint and will discuss your options for anesthesia or sedation, should surgical treatment be necessary. We may perform arthroscopy to diagnose the condition. This involves your doctor inserting a small tube and camera into the joint to view the area.
Nonsurgical approaches will be considered first, as these methods have proven effective for many people with TMJ problems. These include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. Wearing a mouth guard at night can relieve pressure on the joint and prevent teeth grinding. We may also recommend oral splints or physical therapy to strengthen the jaw muscles.
If conventional methods fail, then we will consider a surgical approach. Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small needle to irrigate the joint, removing debris and inflammatory byproducts. Corticosteroid injections or botulinum toxin type A (BOTOX®) can relieve pain. Arthroscopic surgery using a small tube and instruments is an alternative to open-joint surgery, as it is less invasive and has fewer risks. Open-joint surgery may be an option if there are structural problems within the joint or if the joint needs to be replaced. Patients with misaligned jaws may be candidates for jaw surgery.
Can I Prevent TMJ Disorders?
If there is structural damage or genetics causing your TMJ problems, an oral surgery specialist should evaluate and manage your condition. If you experience symptoms of a TMJ disorder, but do not experience pain, there are some things you can do to reduce stress of the joint.
- Practice good posture.
- Keep your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating; they should not touch when your mouth is at rest.
- If you habitually clench or grind your teeth, practice stress management techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises.
- Apply ice and heat to the joint to relax the muscles.
Utah’s TMJ Specialists
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons undergo specialized training to diagnose and manage conditions of the head, neck, mouth, and face. This includes the temporomandibular joint. If you suspect a TMJ problem or experience pain associated with your jaw, contact Utah Surgical Arts for a consultation. Our surgeons and staff look forward to caring for you and helping you along your journey to pain-free living and a fully functioning jaw.
Utah Surgical Arts is approved by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). This accreditation is difficult to obtain and allows our office to function as a hospital and/or surgical center. Since extensive surgeries must be performed in a surgical center, there are many instances where the patient may be unable to have this surgery due to the high cost of the hospital or surgical center. If your surgery can be performed at Utah Surgical Arts, the cost savings may be significant. Many patients who were unable to have the procedure due to the high cost involved were able to have the procedure performed at Utah Surgical Arts. Learn More.
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