The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “jaw joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. For many people, this joint is a common area for recurring pain.
Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicate TMJ dysfunction (TMD) this is not always true. Often, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.
Common indicators of TMD include chronic soreness or pain in jaw joints accompanied by popping and clicking, limited jaw function, pain in the neck, shoulders or upper back areas, or pain and pressure in the face and ears.
Our doctors will perform a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. This tissue cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth. If you are experiencing TMJ discomfort, possible causes may include swelling or deterioration of this joint tissue. Common pain relievers and cold compresses can often provide temporary relief for most cases of minor TMD.
For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often we will suggest using a mouth guard (or nightguard) to protect jaw joints from further damage. Nightguards are made of acrylic and are fitted to be worn over upper or lower teeth to reduce the impact on the jaw joints from teeth grinding or clenching patterns, which usually occur during sleep. They are also designed to protect the chewing surfaces of the teeth from excessive wear.
In some cases, we may instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures or referral to dental specialists.
If you suffer from jaw joint soreness or pain, Contact Us to schedule a thorough TMJ Examination with our Doctors.