Problems with the jaw can be very painful especially when the pain is present while the jaw opens or closes. The pain often lingers even when the jaw is at rest and can cause earaches or difficulty chewing. This nagging type of pain may be due to temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ. The temporomandibular joint is like a hinge that attaches the jaw to the skull, with a joint on either side of the face. According to our Midtown TMJ dentist, Dr. Nate Sadler, DDS the disorder can be a result of many different factors such as arthritis, injury to the jaw, genetics or even grinding of the teeth.
Our Midtown TMJ dentist diagnoses TMJ through a combination of factors including listening to the jaw open and close, manual inspections, x-rays, CT scans or MRI scans. A TMJ arthroscopy, where a thin tube containing a camera is inserted into the joint can also be used. There are several treatments for TMJ that our doctor can recommend. Many cases of TMJ are temporary and will resolve with little or no treatment. In these cases OTC pain medications or muscle relaxers help the transition. Moist heat or ice and jaw exercises are often used to help the jaw muscles relax and strengthen. A special device that serves as a splint when inserted into the mouth can be helpful in many cases.
If the case is more severe or won’t go away using conservative methods our Midtown TMJ dentist can perform one of several more invasive procedures to alleviate the problem. Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts. Many patients benefit from the injection of corticosteroid into the joint. For cases that aren’t resolved by other methods our doctor can perform open joint surgery where the joint itself is repaired or even replaced. Don’t live with jaw discomfort and pain call our office for a appointment.