The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a joint that acts as a hinge connecting the lower jaw to the skull. The TMJ allows your mouth to comfortably open and close and move side to side smoothly. It connects just in front of the ear on each side of your head and is attached to muscles that control your mouth’s movement.
Some patients experience pain in this joint and the surrounding muscles. This condition is called a TMJ disorder and is actually more common than some people may think. You may have a TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble opening your mouth all the way
- Pain in the facial muscles, including around the ears or in the jaw joints
- Difficulty biting into food or chewing foods
- Grating, popping, or clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Increased headaches, hearing loss, ear pain, ringing in the ears, or dizziness
While the true cause of TMJ disorders is not always clear, it is important for an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to have the best understanding of how the disorder began in order to properly develop a treatment plan. Sometimes, the disorder can be a result of multiple causes. Some causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Injury to the jaw or muscles in the neck or head
- Excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Displaced or perforated disk in the joint
You will receive a thorough oral and maxillofacial examination during your initial consultation. You may also need additional x-rays or a CT scan to pinpoint the functional problem. After your initial consultation, Dr. Weber will develop a treatment plan for your condition based on the specific cause (or causes) of your disorder. In some instances, your TMJ disorder may not be severe and can be treated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments, such as bite guards, pain relievers, or physical therapy.
If your TMJ condition does require some form of surgery, the procedure performed will be based on your specific problem. If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, please contact Northern Westchester Oral Surgery for a consultation. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are uniquely qualified specialists in the areas of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face and are your best option for correctly diagnosing and treating a TMJ disorder.