TMJ Treatment An Overview
Trauma to the jaw joint, wearing of the jaw cartilage, or malocclusion could cause damage to the temporomandibular joint. A TMJ related disorder or temporomandibular disorder (TMD) occurs when the jaw does not function properly, adding unnecessary stress to the surrounding muscles and nerves. Patients often experience painful and chronic symptoms and may experience tooth damage or wear that becomes more noticeable over time.
A TMD can manifest in several ways in different patients. Common symptoms of TMJ include:
- Chronic headaches, especially in the morning
- Discomfort or soreness in the neck, shoulders or face
- Stiffness, popping or clicking of the jaw
- Earaches or frequent ringing in the ears
- Pain in the jaw muscles, tired jaws
- Excessive tooth wear, chipped teeth, cracked teeth
There is typically no one singular cause of a TMD, commonly called “TMJ”. Joint damage can happen suddenly or occur gradually over time. Stress can frequently exacerbate TMJ and is often a key factor behind painful flare-ups.
Patients who grind their teeth are more likely to experience TMJ, and conversely patients with a TMD or bite problem are more likely to experience teeth grinding. Bruxism most commonly occurs while a patient is asleep and may be difficult to diagnose. Teeth grinding puts added stress on the jaw and can damage teeth and the jaw joint. Dr. Kim looks for the telltale signs of teeth grinding during routine exams, such as worn teeth and damaged enamel.