TMJ/TMD

TMJ diagnosis and treatment

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called TMJ or TMD, are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Our team at Carolina Center for Comprehensive Dentistry and Dr. Lineberry are skilled and capable in diagnosing these complex disorders and recommending TMJ treatments.

For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.

 

Disorders of the jaw joint and chewing muscles fall into three main categories:

  • Myofascial pain – discomfort or pain the muscles that control jaw function
  • Internal derangements – dislocated jaw, displaced disc, or injury to the condyle (rounded ends of the lower jaw)
  • Arthritis – a degenerative/inflammatory joint disorder

 

Bruxism, or habitual teeth grinding, can also cause facial muscle pain, headache, and other symptoms similar to TMJ symptoms. Bruxism may or may not be related to your TMJ pain. With our thorough approach, we can help diagnose bruxism and offer treatments and solutions.

 

What are the symptoms?

The most common TMJ symptom is simply jaw pain in and around the jaw joint and chewing muscles. You may have jaw pain on one side or both, and it may include pain at the jaw joint ear. Other symptoms could include:

  • Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

 

To determine what may be causing your TMJ pain we take a holistic dental approach and note the description of your symptoms, your dental history, and medical history. Dr. Lineberry and our team will examine your problem areas including your face, neck, head, and jaw, and if necessary order imaging studies (X-rays). We may further encourage you to talk with your primary care physician to rule out other causes of pain in the jaw, face, or neck.

 

What are TMJ treatments?

TMJ treatments are individual and unique for each person. Depending on what your examination reveals there are a number of treatments available, including stabilization splints (a plastic guard that fits over the upper or lower teeth) and pain medications. These TMJ pain treatments are useful for temporary relief, but are not considered cures. Some severe cases of TMJ/TMD may require surgery to correct damage or defects to the jaw joint.

 

We also encourage these self-care practices as well, to help ease TMJ symptoms and TMJ pain:

  • Eat soft foods
  • Apply ice pack
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements (wide yawning, gum chewing, loud singing)
  • Learn relaxation and stress reduction techniques
  • Practice gentle jaw stretches and relaxation exercises to increase jaw movement
  • Practice other exercises targeted to your specific pain symptoms

 

As leaders in comprehensive dentistry we constantly study, learn, and teach our patients new approaches and technologies to identifying, diagnosing and treating TMJ and TMJ related symptoms.