The jaw joint is known as the “temporomandibular joint” (TMJ). TMJ disorders (TMJD) are common, reflecting the busy and stressful nature of our daily lives. Most symptoms of TMJD are mild and do not need treatment. As in other joints of the body, symptoms may go away with time.
Symptoms of TMJD may include:
- Limited jaw movement or ‘locked’ jaw
- Clicking or grating from the jaw joints
- Pain when chewing, yawning or opening jaw widely
- Pain in ears, cheeks, headaches
- Loss of hearing or ringing in the ears
- Pain in face, neck, shoulders
There are multiple factors that contribute to TMJD:
- Missing teeth
- Bruxism: grinding/clenching
- Emotional or physical stress, build-up of tension in the neck and jaw muscles
- Injuries to the TMJ
- Conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
Treatment of TMJD
Our dentists will involve you in preparing the treatment plan. We believe in conservative techniques that do not have any permanent effect on the teeth and jaw. Treatments are usually directed at reducing symptoms and restoring function. Sometimes other health professionals are called upon for assistance.
Treatment may include:
- Physiotherapy and remedial massage
- Relaxation and stress management
- Medication to relieve symptoms and to assist other treatment methods
- Occlusal splint therapy to take the pressure off the jaw joints and teeth. These are usually worn at night but can also be worn during the daytime during periods of clenching when stressed. Splints are custom made by your dentist and are adjusted to ensure your jaw is well supported
- Specialist management is required when initial conservative treatment has not been effective
- Surgery is rarely required.
At your routine dental visits, our dentist will examine your jaw function to help monitor your TMJ’s health.