Jaw/TMJ in Hudson Valley & Metro NY

shutterstock_60533599What is TMJ disorder and what causes it?

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the sliding hinge that connects the jaw to the skull. TMJ disorders are manifested as pain in the jaw joints, tenderness of the muscles that control the jaw, discomfort when chewing, an aching pain on the patient’s face or around the ear, and difficulty in opening or closing the mouth. The dental specialists at the Family Dental Group in New York usually recommend seeking medical attention if the pain or tenderness in the jaw becomes persistent, or if any of the symptoms become so bad that the patient can no longer open or close the jaw entirely. TMJ disorders are usually the result of joint damage because of blunt force or a high impact blow to the joint, cartilage damage due to arthritis, or the misalignment or deterioration of the shock-absorbing disc that is typically found in between the bones of the temporomandibular joint. It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ disorders, so it is highly recommended that the patient gets medical advise as soon as possible.

Is TMJ treatment available?

Yes, TMJ treatment is available to patients who are diagnosed with TMJ disorders. To facilitate the diagnosis, the dentist will conduct a series of tests to positively identify the TMJ disorder. Tests will be conducted to observe the jaw’s range of motion. The patient will also be asked to listen for any clicking sounds and to feel the position of the jawbones whenever he opens or closes his mouth. The dentist may also press on the affected area to identify the sites that cause the patient pain or discomfort.

Potent pain relievers, such as tricyclic antidepressants, may be prescribed by the doctor to effectively manage the pain associated with TMJ disorders as over-the-counter medications may not be enough to relieve the pain in this condition. Muscle relaxants have also been widely used in TMJ treatment to help relieve pain experienced by patients. If the patient’s condition is aggravated by another underlying conditions such nighttime teeth clenching, sedatives may be prescribed to alleviate pain.

TMJ treatment may also involve non-pharmaceutical methods. Many patients have found relief with the use of oral appliances such as oral splints or mouth guards, which are inserted in between the patient’s teeth to help relieve some of the pressure from the jaw in this condition. Physical therapy has also been found to be beneficial and may include moist heat and cold pressure used in conjunction with exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the jaw.

Arthrocentesis is one of the techniques used in TMJ treatment that involves the insertion of needles directly into the jaw joint so that the accumulated fluid maybe irrigated, thereby removing debris and other products of inflammation. For other people TMJ treatment may involve the use of corticosteroid injections into the jaw. Botox injections into the jaw muscles have also been reported to relieve pain during chewing for patients with TMJ disorders.

When none of the aforementioned methods work, surgical TMJ treatment may be the best course of action to improve on the condition. This could also implicate that the disorder is potentially being caused by a structural problem within the jaw joint, necessitating surgery to repair or replace it.

TMJ home treatments may also be beneficial for patients.  These treatments may include avoiding excessive use of the jaw muscles, stretching and massaging, or hot and cold compresses to alleviate the pain.

Specials & Events