Chronic Jaw Pain in the Hinge Joint
Pronounced [tem-puh-roh-man-dib-yuh-ler], Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder, TMJ affects the joints of the jaw that causes chronic facial pain and/or dysfunction. It effects the muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and other tissues in the TMJ.
The Temporomandibular Joint and the jaw muscles allow the mouth to open and close. They make it possible to chew, speak, and swallow.
When the TMJ is not functioning correctly, people experience symptoms that may include:
- Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
- Headaches and neck aches
- Pain in or around the ear
- Tenderness of the jaw
TMJ is often associated with Bruxism, a condition where one grinds and/or clenches their teeth. “Bruxers” is a name given to people who suffer from Bruxism. Bruxers may have habits of biting their fingernails, pencils, or chewing the inside of their cheek. Most teeth grinding and damage occurs during sleep. Most Bruxers become aware of the problem only after the signs of damage are noticed.
More than 15% percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain. Bruxism is a major cause of tooth enamel damage and a contributor to tooth loss and gum recession. Untreated, Bruxism results in damage to the teeth and causes TMJ. Eventually, the teeth being ground become shortened and blunt, the TMJs are also being damaged. The results for many are the myofascial muscle pains and headaches caused by TMJ disorder.
With an exam and X-rays, Dr. Clausen can help identify the source of the pain. TMJ disorder is also often caused by an abscess of a tooth or early stage periodontal disease. Other causes are not so easily diagnosed. Treatments for TMJ disorder may include a dental procedure to correct the physical causes, wearing a mouth protector, muscle relaxants, and stress reducing exercises to prevent teeth grinding. Dr. Clausen's TMJ patients have had much success.
Depending on the amount of wear and fracturing, reconstruction dentistry including crowns and bridges to restore the mouth to proper form and function many be necessary.
Dr. Clausen will take the time with you to determine what course of action is best for your situation.