The joint that controls the movement of your jaw is called the temporomandibular joint, which most people simply refer to as the TMJ. This joint is a complex mechanism, and when it doesn't function properly, we call it a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.
TMD has a variety of symptoms such as pain and soreness in your jaw and difficulty opening and closing your mouth; it can be the result of numerous conditions including arthritis, bruxism, malocclusion, or trauma to the joint.
As you can see, TMD is a complex condition that requires the advanced knowledge and expertise of an oral surgeon like Dr. Suzin Um to diagnose and treat successfully.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
TMD can manifest in many ways:
- Pain when opening and closing the mouth
- General soreness or pain in the face or jaw
- Clicking, popping, or grinding in the joint
- Frequent headaches
A locked jaw is another good indication that there's a problem with your TMJ. An open lock is when you can't close your mouth, and a closed lock is when you can't open your mouth. Jaw lock is a problem that requires treatment as soon as possible. While some patients can manipulate themselves out of the lock, jaw manipulation by Dr. Um under IV sedation will be safer and more comfortable.
What Are the Causes of TMD?
Myofascial Pain Disorder
Myofascial pain is common and is related to soreness and enlargement of the muscles around your jaw. Muscles that are stressed continuously from teeth grinding and clenching overload the joint, causing tenderness and pain.
When there is a displacement of the disc between the jaw joint that interferes with the smooth movement of the jaw, the anatomy of the joint can be affected.
If you have an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, it may impact the jaw joint. Dr. Um recommends working with your physician to monitor the condition and control progression of the disease.
Trauma to the Joint
If the jaw joint suffers trauma due to an accident, the function of the jaw joint can be affected.
What Are My Options for Treatment?
The first step is to diagnose the cause of your pain because the type of treatment required will differ in each case. At Lake Forest Oral Surgery, Dr. Um uses leading-edge technology like digital x-rays and 3-D cone beam imaging to identify the source of your pain. In some cases, she may recommend an MRI.
We typically start with the most conservative approach. Following a soft diet, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and using a warm compress around the joint area can all be very useful. Botox injections are another option that provides relief for many people because they relax the muscles around the jaw.
In more severe cases, arthrocentesis (flushing the joint), joint replacement, or jaw surgery can all be used to improve joint health.
Please Call Lake Forest Oral Surgery
If your dentist has referred you because you are living with constant pain in your jaw, face, neck, or shoulders, please call Dr. Um to learn more about our treatment options at our Foothill Ranch oral surgery office.