TMJ disorder is more than just an annoying popping sound that your jaw makes. Though some people find the problem is only temporary, others discover that their uncomfortable case of TMJ is so severe that medical intervention from Dr. Vigliante, Dr. Gocke or Dr. McAdams is required.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ, medically known as the temporomandibular joint, is a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. You have two jawbone joints – one on the right side of your face and one on the left.
Some residents develop disorders of the TMJ, often resulting in popping sounds when one opens his or her mouth or pain and discomfort that just won’t go away.
For cases of TMJ disorder that require surgical solutions, Virginia Advanced Surgical Arts can help people in Metro DC communities.
You might have a TMJ disorder if you experience any or all the following symptoms:
Tenderness or pain in your jaw
Pain on one or both sides of your TMJ joints
Aching pain in and around your ear (when ear infection has been ruled out)
Finding it difficult or painful to chew food
Facial pain that aches
Finding that your jaw locks, making it difficult for you to open or close your mouth
When Does TMJ Disorder Need Medical
You may have felt and heard your jaw pop at one time or another. But if you’re experiencing any of the persistent pain listed above, it’s time to get a medical examination from our oral surgeons for a diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorders
When you visit Virginia Advanced Surgical Arts to address continuing jaw pain and popping, our oral surgeons perform a full evaluation, including:
Listening to and feeling the way your jaw functions when you open and close your mouth
Visually observing the range of motion you have in your jaw
Pressing on areas of your jaw to pinpoint the exact areas where you experience pain and discomfort
In some cases, additional tests may be required, including:
Dental X-rays that show both your teeth and jawbone
A CT scan to show the details of the bones that make up the TMJ joint
An MRI if joint disc or surrounding tissue problems are suspected
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing a
Sometimes, it can feel like TMJ just came out of nowhere. Other times, they have experienced known causes including:
A diagnosis of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
An injury that damaged or affected the jaw
A long history of clenching or grinding the teeth
A diagnosis of certain connective tissue diseases
How is a Serious Case of TMJ Treated?
Many patients are fortunate enough to have their case of TMJ go away on their own, while others will require medical intervention.
This can range from medications (such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers), therapies (including oral splints, mouth guards, or physical therapy), and corrective jaw surgery in the most severe cases.
When Total Joint Replacement of the TMJ is
Some patients have such a severe case of TMJ disorder, they require a total joint replacement of the TMJ. This typically occurs in individuals who:
Have significant joint deterioration resulting from a traumatic injury
Have osteoarthritis, which has severely affected the TMJ joint
Have experienced some other form of serious, irreparable damage to the joint
This surgery, which replaces the joint with a prosthetic, is intensive, and typically requires an overnight stay in the hospital, 2-3 weeks at home recovery period, and, in some cases, wiring the mouth shut during the healing process.
But it’s worthwhile. Studies have shown that the total joint replacement of the TMJ surgery is very successful. Even 10 years post-op, many patients exhibit significant improvements in:
Range of motion of the mouth
Reduced pain achieved and maintained around 6 months post-op
Getting the Help You Need
If you live in the Metro DC area and are experiencing persistent pain in your jaw, there’s no reason to grin and bear it. Visit the TMJ treatment specialists at Virginia Advanced Surgical Arts to determine if you have TMJ, and if so, what treatment options are appropriate for your case.