TMJ disorder is a condition affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the place where your lower jaw connects to your skull. It is characterized by limited movement of the jaw and possible pain. If you have these or other symptoms related to TMJ disorder, you may wonder where to go for diagnosis and treatment. Should you call your primary care physician or your dentist? What doctor or specialist treats TMJ disorders?
Dentists and Dental Specialists Treat TMJ Disorders
Dentists provide care and treatment for your mouth, which includes your teeth and jaw. Dental specialists in the field of dentistry may also treat TMJ disorder, such as a periodontist. A periodontist specializes in the support structures for the teeth, which includes the jaw, ligaments, cartilage, and gum tissue that hold the teeth in place. Their extensive knowledge of the jaw and how it works makes them particularly qualified to treat TMJ disorders.
What is TMJ Disorder?
When something happens to the temporomandibular joint that causes inflammation and/or irritation, it is referred to as TMJ disorder. There are a variety of causes, such as a blow to the jaw, teeth grinding, and even arthritis. When excessive strain is put on the joint or if it gets knocked out of alignment, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can become inflamed, resulting in pain and tightness that can limit the range of motion in your jaw.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Typical signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain in the area of the temporomandibular joint
- Pain the temple region of the head
- Ear pain
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- Popping or clicking sound when moving your jaw
- Pain when chewing
- Headaches upon waking up
- Neck pain
- Mouth locking open or closed
If you have any of these symptoms, you should consult with your dentist or periodontist.
How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
There are a range of treatments that can relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder:
- Basic. Basic treatment starts with home remedies such as applying ice/ heat to the jaw and face, resting the jaw, eating soft foods, and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication. In many cases this is all the treatment that is needed to relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
- Intermediate. When basic treatments are ineffective or the symptoms keep returning, you may need the help of a specialist. Your dentist or periodontist can prescribe muscle relaxers and prescription strength anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers. They may also create a custom night guard for you to wear while you sleep that will protect your teeth and joint from further damage due to teeth grinding. This non-invasive approach many times resolves the symptoms.
- Advanced. In rare cases the joint has sustained so much damage that surgery may be required.
Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry Provides Treatment for TMJ Disorders
Dr. Gordon at Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry has successfully treated numerous cases of TMJ disorder. Recognizing the common symptoms and providing the appropriate treatment, we can relieve your pain at the source and prevent it from recurring.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.