Do you suffer from frequent jaw pain? You may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a condition that affects between five to 12 percent of people in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. David Gailey, your Spokane, WA oral surgeons at Inland Oral Surgery, share information about TMJ and treatment options.
What is TMJ?
TMJ affects the hinge joints just below your ears that connect your jaw to your skull. Bones, ligaments and muscles in the joint work together to open or close your jaw when you eat, speak or yawn. TMJ affects the normal functioning of the joint, resulting in significant pain and other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
If you have TMJ, you may develop:
- Pain in your jaw and jaw joint
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Facial pain
- Trouble chewing
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Tightness in your shoulder and neck muscles
- Temporary locking of your jaw
- Popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth
- A change in your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together)
How is TMJ treated?
If you only have mild TMJ, over-the-counter pain medication, ice packs, jaw stretching exercises and a soft diet may help ease your pain. Custom-made nightguards can stop grinding or clenching that can cause TMJ. If your symptoms are caused by a bite problem, braces can help improve the alignment of your teeth. Your Spokane oral surgeon may also recommend that you wear special splints. These splints gradually improve the alignment of your jaw. Once your jaw is properly aligned, your ligaments and muscles relax and your pain eases.
If you've had orthodontic and other types of treatment and don't notice any changes in your symptoms, your oral surgeon may recommend oral surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the cause and extent of your problem. Surgery is commonly used to remove scar tissue and adhesions, improve range of motion, reposition jaw discs, shave bone spurs or repair ligaments.
There's no need to suffer from TMJ pain. Call Dr. Gailey, your Spokane, WA oral surgeons at Inland Oral Surgery, at (509) 321-1404 to schedule an evaluation of your symptoms.