When there is a problem with the functioning of the jaw, jaw joints, and surrounding facial muscles that control the movement of the jaw it is called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). The temporamandibular joint is a hinge joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull. This joint is located right in front of the ear on each side of the head, which is why teeth grinding causes migraines in many people. The muscles attached to the jaw allow for the jaws full range of motion, allowing us to chew, talk and yawn with ease.
What is TMJ?
Many people who suffer from TMJ experience severe pain and discomfort. Some do not realize that teeth grinding causes migraines because the pressure placed on the jaw affects the jaw joints. The pain from TMJ can last for a few months or for several years. More women experience TMJ pain than men, and the disorder is more common in people between 20 and 40 years of age.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF TMJ
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint region, neck, shoulders, and in or around the ear when chewing, speaking, or yawning
- Limited ability to open the mouth wide
- Jaws that get "stuck" or get "locked" in an open or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when the mouth is opened or closed
- Feelings of tiredness in the face and neck
- Difficulty chewing
- Uncomfortable feeling when biting
- Facial swelling
- Frequent toothaches
- Headaches and neck aches
- Dizzy spells
- Hearing problems
- Upper shoulder pain
- Ringing ears
Causes of TMJ
The main cause of TMJ is still unknown, but experts believe the symptoms are a result of problems in the muscles of the jaw or with parts of the joint. Some of the known factors that contribute to TMJ include:
- Any type of trauma to the face or jaw
- Grinding of the teeth (bruxism)
- Jaw clenching
- Rheumatoid arthritis
TMJ Treatment Options
In many cases, TMJ symptoms will go away on their own because the jaw joint has a chance to recover when you are not chewing food or gum. There are at home TMJ treatment options that include anti-inflammatory medication, being conscious of and eating soft foods, and applying warm compresses to the area of pain. Dr. Sperbeck can show you how to perform some basic muscle stretching and relaxation exercises that help to relax the jaw.
If the symptoms you are experiencing do not subside, medical treatment of your TMJ may be necessary. Dr. Sperbeck may recommend a fitting with a splint or bite plate that fits over your upper and lower teeth like a mouth sports guard. The splint is designed to reduce clenching or grinding at night, and can help to reduce muscle tension.
If non-invasive treatments fail to work, you may need to undergo a more invasive procedure. Cortisone shots can help to relieve pain and inflammation. A very small percentage of patients will require jaw joint replacement surgery to replace the jaw joint with an artificial implant.
Meet Glenn Sperbeck, D.D.S.
Westchester Pinhole Surgical Technique Dentist
Glenn Sperbeck, D.D.S., has an undergraduate degree in Biology from UCLA and graduated with honors from USC Dental School in 1982. Upon graduation from dental school, he established a private general practice in Westchester, California, with a focus on cosmetic restorative dentistry and the treatment of Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders.
Dr. Sperbeck is enthusiastic about continuing education and advanced dental training in quest of knowledge to provide the finest care, skill, and judgment that modern dentistry has to offer:
- Member, American Dental Association
- Member, Academy of General Dentistry
- Member, American Academy of Implant Dentistry
- Member, Doctors for Oral Conscious Sedation (DOCS)
- Member, International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT)
- Member, Orognathic Bioesthetic Institute
- Member, Pankey Alumni Association Constituent, Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
- Active participant in dental study groups that consist of dentists who are dedicated to a life-long pursuit of education and dental excellence.
Balancing his commitment to dentistry, Dr. Sperbeck thoroughly enjoys time with his family, reading (suspense) novels, fly fishing blue ribbon trout streams, and setting up camp before hiking the next picturesque mountain trail with camera in hand!
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