The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. It allows your mouth to open, close, and move side to side smoothly. The TMJ connects just in front of the ears and attaches to the muscles that control the movement of your jaw.
Sometimes the TMJ can develop a disorder, making it difficult to use your jaw without discomfort. TMJ disorders can severely affect a person’s quality of life, and patients with TMJ disorder often report the following symptoms:
- Unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Soreness or stiffness in and around the jaw muscles
- Frequent headaches or dizziness
- Hearing loss, ear pain, or ringing in the ears
- Difficulty or intense pain when chewing, yawning, or opening the mouth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Jaws that make popping or clicking sounds when opening the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth all the way
- Jaws locking or catching when opening and closing the mouth
TMJ disorders can develop for a variety of reasons. Though it is not always clear how or why a patient develops a TMJ disorder, the following causes can all contribute to TMJ problems:
- Jaw, neck, or head injuries
- Teeth clenching or grinding
- Displacement of the joint’s disk
TMJ Disorder Treatment
Many TMJ disorder patients successfully manage their condition and reduce discomfort through simple lifestyle changes, such as improved posture or use of a mouth guard at night to prevent excessive grinding and clenching. Physical therapy, jaw exercises, steroid injections, use of anti-inflammatory pain relievers, resting your jaw, avoiding hard and chewy foods, and keeping your teeth apart when they are not in use can also help control TMJ symptoms. In other cases, surgical intervention may be the only option for successful treatment.
The oral surgeons at Pacific Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons will work with you and your team of doctors to find a solution for your condition. If you have experienced any of the TMJ symptoms listed above, contact one of our offices in Auburn, WA, Federal Way, WA, Renton, WA, or Maple Valley, WA, today to schedule a consultation appointment and start moving toward a solution.