TMJ Disorders: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that affects the jaw and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which act as hinges connecting the lower jaw to the skull. These joints are found in front of each ear and control facial expressions like smiling, chewing, and talking. When these muscles become irritated and inflamed, it can cause problems with the jaw joint. Our Eureka dentist office offers comprehensive, skilled TMJ treatments in Eureka, MO, providing you and your family with the highest standard of dental healthcare. 

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the joint connecting your lower jaw to your skull. This joint acts as a hinge and controls facial expressions such as smiling, chewing, and talking. When these muscles become irritated or inflamed, it can cause severe pain and discomfort. The muscles and ligaments of the TMJ are also affected by injury, trauma, arthritis, or misaligned bites. 

Several factors can contribute to the development of TMJ disorder, including: 

  • Injury or trauma to the jaw area 
  • Stressful situations like clenching and grinding your teeth 
  • Misaligned bite leading to uneven contact between the teeth 
  • Arthritis or other medical conditions that affect the joints

What Are the Symptoms Of TMJ?

The most common symptoms of this disorder are: 

  • Pain in and around the jaw joint when you move your mouth slowly 
  • Noises resembling a popping, clicking, or grinding sound when the mouth is opened and closed. 
  • Difficulty chewing and speaking 
  • Facial pain or headaches 
  • Jaw fatigue and soreness 
  • Lockjaw or restricted jaw movement in which the jaw gets stuck open or closed

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, contact us today at Eureka Dental Group so that we can help you find TMJ pain relief. 

What To Expect During a TMJ Diagnosis

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder is a painful condition that affects the jaw and surrounding muscles. If you experience TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing, seek professional help. A dental professional can diagnose and treat TMJ, but what happens during the TMJ diagnosis process? Here are the typical steps our professionals take to diagnose and what you can expect during the process.

Step 1: Medical History and Dental Exam

When identifying TMJ, a doctor or dentist will ask questions about the patient’s medical background and perform a thorough dental examination. During the history taking, our dentist will ask questions about your symptoms, such as when they started, how often they occur, and what triggers them. You’ll also need to describe any other conditions and the medications you’re taking. Next, our dentist will carefully examine your teeth, gums, and jaw. We will check the range of motion of your jaw, listen to clicks and pops, and feel for tenderness around your jaw joint.

Step 2: Imaging Tests

If we suspect you have TMJ, we may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI, can reveal the position of the jaw joint and any abnormalities. We can also inspect the surrounding structures, like the muscles, ligaments, and nerves. The results of the imaging tests can help guide our Eureka dentist in formulating an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Step 3: Bite Analysis

A bite analysis is another essential component of the TMJ diagnosis process. Our dentist will check if your teeth fit together correctly and if any misalignment contributes to the symptoms. We may use a series of instruments or record your bite with a digital scanner to assess the pressure and movements of your jaw, teeth, and muscles. A misaligned bite can cause undue stress on the jaw muscles and joints, leading to TMJ symptoms.

Step 4: Consultation with a TMJ Treatments Specialist

We may refer you to a TMJ specialist for further assessment. A TMJ specialist is a dental professional with extensive training in treating TMJ disorders. You’ll have more advanced tests and examinations, such as electromyography (EMG), to evaluate muscle function and activity of the jaw. The TMJ specialist can also provide specialized treatments like occlusal therapy, trigger point injections, and bite adjustment to relieve TMJ symptoms.

Step 5: Treatment Plan

Once the dentist or TMJ specialist has determined the diagnosis, they will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and symptoms. The treatment plan may include a combination of self-care strategies such as jaw exercises, stress management techniques, and dietary modifications. You may also be prescribed medications like muscle relaxants, pain relievers, or anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying issue.

The Connection Between TMJ Disorder and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder that occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, disrupting your restful sleep. OSA can have serious consequences, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, if left untreated. One of the most common connections between TMJ disorder and OSA is jaw misalignment. 

At Eureka Dental Group, we understand the importance of providing personalized treatment plans that address each individual’s needs to achieve optimal oral health and comfort. Our team is dedicated to helping you find relief from TMJ disorder through safe and effective treatments.

Comprehensive TMJ Treatment to Relieve Pain

At Eureka Dental Group, our professionals can help diagnose TMJ disorder and provide treatments to alleviate symptoms. Our approach involves a comprehensive evaluation of the affected joints and muscles of the jaw and the surrounding teeth. Depending on your needs, we may recommend an individualized treatment plan combining manual therapy, lifestyle modifications, and therapeutic exercises. 

Manual therapies such as massage, joint mobilization, and myofascial release can help relax tight muscles to reduce pain and improve jaw movement. Additionally, we suggest using a night guard to prevent teeth grinding and an orthotic device to help align your bite for better comfort during the day. 

Our team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs and help alleviate your pain most effectively. With our expert care, we can help you achieve optimum oral health and comfort! Contact Eureka Dental Group today!