At the back of the jaw are two joints, one on each side. These structures, the temporomandibular joints, keep the jaw stabilized onto the skull and enable you to achieve a number of different movements associated with speaking, chewing, and other oral activities. If problems occur somewhere in the bite or maxillofacial anatomy, it is possible that these joints will cease to function optimally.
What could cause TMJ Disorder
Research suggests a few distinct factors that may be behind TMJ disorder. The joints themselves may be directly injured through physical contact, such as a whiplash injury. The disc within the joint may move or wear down or the joint may develop arthritis. In many cases, the underlying issue with stress to the temporomandibular joint is bruxism, or clenching and grinding the jaw.
Symptoms to look for
TMJ disorder may lead to chronic problems with joint stiffness or tenderness in the jaw, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, limited mobility when opening and closing the mouth, the mouth becomes stuck in an open or closed position, sounds like clicking, popping or grating when the mouth is opened and closed, difficulty chewing, facial swelling, tooth pain or sensitivity, pressure or ringing in the ears, dizziness, or sudden uncomfortable bite.
Easing discomfort with home care and professional help
TMJ can be concerning. Dr. Palioca does provide early treatment for TMJ disorder as it suits a patient's needs. In mild cases of stress to the temporomandibular joints, there is the possibility that nightly wear of a mouthguard can diminish the effects of force from bruxism. You may also find relief from mild TMJ disorder with home care such as giving the jaw a rest with softer foods and the avoidance of gum chewing. Because untreated TMJ disorder may keep you from feeling comfortable, it is beneficial to receive a consultation to confirm the cause of your symptoms.
Due to the complexity of this condition, more severe cases are referred to a specialist.
We are happy to consult with you about TMJ disorder and discuss treatment options either in our office or with a specialist that can help you enjoy your life. Contact our office at (508) 456-7111.