TMJ Symptoms and Treatment

The jaw is a complex structure, consisting of bones, muscles, cartilage and tendons that all must work in concert for people to chew and speak properly. If everything goes as it’s supposed to, the jaw is able to open, close and move laterally without discomfort.

When one or more of the jaw’s elements is out of whack, a temporomandibular joint (TMJ, which is the technical name for the jaw) disorder can result.

TMJ disorders can arise from any number of causes, from injury to stress to congenital problems. In fact, the jaw joint is particularly sensitive to the effects of stress, which is often at the root of TMJ issues.

The effects of TMJ disorders can be debilitating. They are typically associated with moderate to severe pain, which may radiate from the jaw to the neck or the ear, or may result in a full blown, mind bending, migraine headache. Patients with these problems may also notice clicking or popping sounds coming from the jaw joint.

Because the factors that cause TMJ disorders are varied, it makes sense that a number of different treatments may be prescribed to bring relief to patients.

TMJ Relief in Plano

In many instances, minor interventions such as hot/cold compresses, jaw massage and over-the-counter painkillers will be highly effective. Patients may need to alter their chewing technique, switching between the different sides of the mouth, and avoid certain foods that may trigger pain in the jaw. Behavioral and cognitive changes to manage the stress that’s causing the TMJ disorder are often helpful, as well.

When the pain fails to respond to those more conservative measures, Dr. Dickson and My Dentist in Plano team may use other strategies, such as bite appliances that place the jaw in the proper position, or selectively adjusting the height of individual teeth to better ‘Balance’ your bite and make them ‘Fit’ together in a more comfortable position. Rarely, patients whose symptoms persist may need to be referred to an oral surgeon or a neurologist for treatment.

TMJ disorders are fairly common, so we evaluate each of our patients for the condition during routine dental exams. If you have been experiencing jaw pain, talk with Dr. Dickson to learn what is causing your symptoms and which treatments may be effective in your case.