Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)

Temporomandibular joint disorder, often abbreviated as TMJ or TMD, is a painful condition in which the joint where the lower jaw connects to the skull become inflamed. Many people suffer with chronic jaw pain for years, never realizing that therapies are available to relieve their pain and ease the stress on the joint.

Dr. Sean Drower has advanced training and extensive experience in treating a variety of temporomandibular disorders. If you are experiencing jaw pain or any of the other symptoms of TMJ, please call our office today to be evaluated.

What Causes TMJ?

Your jaw is an intricately designed joint. While many people think of the jaw as a simple hinge joint, it’s actually a ball-and-socket joint, which gives the jaw a wide range of motion, back and forth, up and down, and side to side. This incredible range of motion allows humans to chew a variety of foods as well as speak numerous languages.

Unfortunately, multiple factors can contribute to problems with your joint and the surrounding tissue. Some of the causes believed to be linked to the development of TMJ/TMD include:

  • Bruxism, a condition in which chronic grinding and clenching of the teeth occurs
  • Stress, which can also lead to grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw
  • Injury to the joint or surrounding tissues
  • Dislocation of the tissues within the joint
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis

Do I Have TMJ?

The most common symptom of TMJ/TMD, and the one that drives most patients to seek treatment, is the chronic pain in the temporomandibular joint that may radiate into the jaw, up into the head and ear, or down into the neck and shoulders. This pain may be present around the clock, or it may worsen with movement and pressure created by chewing and speaking.

Other symptoms often associated with TMJ include:

  • A clicking, popping, or grating sound that frequently occurs in the joint
  • Difficulty opening the mouth wide or a tendency for the jaw to lock in either an open or closed position
  • Swelling around the joint that may appear on just one side of the face or on both
  • A sense of fatigue in the face or the joint
  • The feeling that the jaws no longer line up properly

Treating TMJ/TMD

Fortunately, we can help. Dr. Drower will evaluate your jaw pain with both a physical examination and x-rays to determine the source of your pain. He will also discuss your symptoms with you to gain a better understanding of your condition.

Dr. Drower will also try to pinpoint the cause of your TMJ for more effective treatment. For instance, if stress is a contributing factor, learning better ways to cope with stress may provide you with some relief. We can also discuss medications to ease your discomfort and swelling and relax your facial muscles.

Another option that is often recommended for patients with TMJ is the use of a night guard, a special device that is worn while you sleep to hold your jaw in a relaxed position, which reduces tension on the joint. Wearing a night guard can provide you with a great deal of relief and allow you to get a good night’s sleep. If you and Dr. Drower feel that this is a good treatment option for you, we will fit you for a customized night guard.

Don’t continue to suffer from jaw pain. Call our office today for an examination.