TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in it’s where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. The jaw wants to sit in an orthopedically correct and neutral posture, and the teeth, due to misalignment may be getting in the way, causing trauma to the teeth, muscles, and jaw joints. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me?
First, you’ll have to pursue a TMJ disorder diagnosis after a formal examination. Once diagnosed, your dentist will see the extent of your condition and determine the best course of treatment. Typically, we will start with lighter courses of treatment like physical therapy, bite/mouth guards, medication to ease pain or relax your jaw, and other forms of self-care. If none of these more conservative methods work well with patients, then joint injections and surgery options may be considered.
What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ
Since TMJ disorder is different for every patient, each individual’s treatment will also vary. More than likely, your treatment will include lifestyle changes to help make your jaw rehabilitation easier. These changes could include avoiding any action that involves sudden jaw movement, like yawning. Other things you can expect is to begin sleeping on your back and try to lessen stress.
Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?
Depending on what course of treatment you receive, your aftercare will be different. For example, if you undergo surgery, you may be put on an all liquid diet temporarily. You can expect a lot of ice application to lessen swelling and making sure your surgical site stays clean and dry to prevent infections.