TMJ disorder, shorthand for temporomandibular joint disorder, affects the jaws and your ability to open and close them normally. The temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects the lower jaw (or mandible) to the temporal bone of your skull. When it is operating properly, you don’t have to think very much about it. Your jaws will move up and down as well as from side to side as they do all the time. However, when it is not functioning normally, you can find it difficult to talk, eat, or even yawn. If you are experiencing TMJ disorder, it is comforting to know that our TMJ oral surgeon, Dr. Elliott Ostro, can help.
So where does TMJ disorder originate? One day your jaws are working perfectly and the next you are having problems. Well, sometimes it is exactly that simple because TMJ can be caused from an injury or accident that results in damage to the joint. In other cases, the culprit is erosion of the disk that allows it to shift and become misaligned. Or arthritis can be the root cause. Symptoms that may indicate a TMJ disorder problem include jaw tenderness, pain while chewing, and difficulties with opening and closing your mouth due to your jaws locking. In addition, pain in or around your ear or general facial pain could be due to TMJ disorder. Any of the listed symptoms is a good reason to call us and schedule an appointment with our TMJ oral surgeon.
Most at risk for TMJ disorder are women between the ages of 20 and 40, but anyone can get it at any age. Mild cases of TMJ disorder may not require any treatment and will just go away on its own. To relieve related discomfort, an over the counter pain reliever is typically recommended. Prescription strength pain relievers may be necessary if the pain is more severe as well as muscle relaxers and sedatives, particularly for helping with teeth clenching at night. Bite guards, physical therapy, exercises, and counseling are among the varied possible remedies for addressing TMJ disorder. In the most extreme instances, injections or surgery may be recommended by our TMJ oral surgeon. But this is usually not necessary.