Rather akin to a large hinge that links the skull with the jawbone, the temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is susceptible to a number of problems able to produce severe pain in both the joint itself and the surrounding muscles.
If you are among those suffering from a tempomandibular disorder (TMJ), you know just how uncomfortable daily life can be. The good news is that many effective remedies exist, and Suffolk County dentists Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot provide a comprehensive evaluation of your specific situation and can recommend TMJ dental treatments, including surgical interventions designed to alleviate your ongoing discomfort once and for all.
Key symptoms of TMJ disorder
TMJ disorders can be characterized by a number of symptoms. However, it can be difficult to accurately diagnose the problem as stemming from a TMJ issue, largely because typical symptoms are similar to those resulting from other known conditions. Nevertheless, common hallmarks of TMJ disorders include noticeable pain in the jaw and/or face that radiates to the ear, headaches and pressure behind the eyes, muscle tenderness, facial swelling, dizziness, shoulder pain, jaw that locks or gets stuck and/or a clicking sound when mouth is opened. Some sufferers also notice that their bite suddenly feels awkward or uncomfortable, as though the teeth are no longer fitting together correctly.
Suspected causes of TMJ disorder
It is difficult for dentists to pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ disorders, but it is thought that symptoms generally arise due to issues with the jaw itself or with the muscles responsible for helping it function. Injury to the joint, or even to the muscles in the neck and head can result in TMD. Common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Habitual clenching or grinding of the teeth resulting in excessive pressure on the jaw joint
- Displacement of the cushioning disc sitting between the socket and ball of the jaw
- Stress-induced tightening of jaw and facial muscles
- Arthritis within the jaw joint itself
Identifying the reason for a particular case of TMJ disorder can be extremely helpful in determining the course of treatment most likely to produce an optimal outcome.
Treating TMJ disorder successfully
For many TMJ disorder patients, symptoms will improve over time without substantial intervention, and therefore conservative treatment plans can be successful. However, for others battling this condition, more targeted procedures, including surgical ones, may be indicated.
In certain situations, treatment with medication can prove extremely helpful, particularly the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. Other patients may benefit from having a splint made to fit over the teeth, preventing the upper and lower sets of teeth from coming together in a clench. Such devices can alleviate pressure on the jaw and surrounding muscles, helping the area heal.
If the above, less-invasive techniques fail to produce the desired relief, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be utilized to relax the facial muscles and the jaw, thus reducing pain. Ultrasound deep heat treatments on the affected area may also help alleviate the discomfort in some cases. Trigger-point injections can be used to place anesthetic or pain relief medication directly into impacted muscles, and many patients find this to be effective.
Finally, in patients for whom no other TMJ disorder treatment has produced sufficient results, there are surgical options which may help. This is often the case for those affected by structural issues with the jaw joint itself. Dentists have the option of performing arthroscopic surgery under general anesthesia or open joint surgery. In very severe cases of TMJ disorder, a full joint replacement may the necessary in order to achieve full relief from symptoms.
TMJ disorder treatment in Suffolk County
Because every case of TMJ disorder is unique, with its own set of precipitating factors and symptoms, it is essential for anyone suffering from facial and jaw pain to consult with a dental professional. Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot possess vast experience in getting the root of TMJ disorders and formulating successful treatment plans.
If you would like more info on TMJ dental treatment in Long Island, we invite you to schedule a free consultation in our Suffolk County office by calling 631-296-0602.