Effective Treatment for TMJ Disorder
Every year, more than 3 million cases of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder are diagnosed in the U.S. This group of disorders, often simply referred to as TMD, are associated with problems in the TMJ that interfere with jaw function. There are several causes, as well as symptoms, possibly indicating you may have the disorder. Patients may have trouble speaking, eating, and making facial expressions. They may also experience tenderness and pain in the jaw and facial area, which can be severe. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder and you reside near Brooklyn Heights, NYC, Dr. Eugene D. Stanislaus can help you find a solution. To learn more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Stanislaus today.
What is TMJ Disorder?
Located on each side of the head in front of the ears, the TMJ connects the jaw to the skull. These joints make it possible to open and close your mouth, move your jaw forward and backward, and slide the jaw from from side to side. Each joint contains a shock-absorbing disc that ensures smooth movement as you speak, swallow, and chew. The TMJ is responsible for the complex functioning of your jaw, and it is made of tissue that is different than other load-bearing joints in your body. Disorders related to the TMJ can be extremely challenging for patients and their healthcare providers. When problems occur in its vicinity, it is often hard to determine the cause. Symptoms may overlap with other health conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, and they can flare up and dissipate over time. The pain that the patient is experiencing may also be coming from more than one source.
Symptoms of TMD can vary widely. Problems may affect both sides of your face or just one and include:
- Discomfort near the jaw joint, around the ears, and in the neck and shoulders when you move your jaw
- Problems with opening or closing the mouth completely
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking, grating, or popping sounds that originate in the jaw joint
- Jaws that lock up
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Aching pain in the facial area
- Swelling on the sides of the face
The exact cause of TMD is not known. However, it is generally agreed that an injury to your head, neck, jaw, or the TMJ can result in TMD. Less obviously, symptoms can come from putting pressure on the joint by clenching or grinding your teeth. Arthritis may damage the joint’s cartilage, which covers the bones that interact with the joint. The cushioning disc can also erode or slip out of place.
Even when the cause of a patient’s TMD is not clear, the disorder can be diagnosed and treated. Dr. Stanislaus will take a detailed account of your medical and dental history and attempt to rule out other known causes of your symptoms. These could include sinus and ear infections, issues with the teeth, and facial neuralgia (nerve-related facial pain). He will also perform a physical exam which may include observing your jaw’s range of motion, listening for sounds, and pressing on different areas to identify the location of discomfort. X-rays or other imaging techniques, such as a computer tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be ordered to find problems with the teeth or within the joint, jawbones, or disc.
Based on the results of these tests, Dr. Stanislaus will develop your treatment plan. He may first want to monitor you to see if the symptoms persist, and you may also want to attempt lifestyle changes and home remedies initially. These can include avoiding the overuse of your jaw muscles, doing exercises that stretch and strengthen them, and using moist heat or cold packs. He may also suggest that you try over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen to alleviate pain and swelling. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques may also be beneficial. If these are not sufficient, there are a number of other treatments available. These may include prescription medications such as a stronger pain reliever, muscle relaxer, or anti-anxiety medication. You can also try using a night guard or splint to reposition your teeth and reduce the effects of clenching or grinding. If non-surgical therapies offer no relief, your dentist may suggest surgery.
Dr. Stanislaus is committed to providing conservative yet comprehensive and effective care for his patients. To schedule a consultation, please contact our helpful staff today.
"I've been very happy with my experiences at Dr. Stanislaus's office, and highly recommend him to anyone in the New York City area. He and his staff go above and beyond to do the best job possible."-R.B. (Patient)