Questions About TMJ

tmj questionsSan Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

Temporomandibular joint disorder takes place when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull enters a state of dysfunction, due to either bite misalignment, an injury, or stress. A person living with temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ for short, often experiences debilitating pain that impairs their ability to function. At Glen Park Dental, we can treat TMJ and its symptoms through neuromuscular dentistry.

Here are some frequently asked questions about TMJ, its symptoms, and how we diagnose and treat the disorder.

What can cause TMJ?

TMJ may result from any one of the following:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, also referred to as bruxism
  • A dislocation of the disc between the ball and socket of a temporomandibular joint
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis that is located in the temporomandibular joint
  • Stress, which causes you to tighten the muscles of your face and jaw
  • Injury to the jaw, head, or neck

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

The most common symptom of TMJ is pain in the jaw joints. This is because the temporomandibular joint itself is located within proximity to the trigeminal nerve, which transmits more sensory information to the brain than any other neural pathway—even the spinal cord! This pain could originate in your jaw or appear to “migrate” to different locations throughout your mouth. It also could result in facial pain, or in advanced or undiagnosed cases of TMJ, eventually radiate to cause pain in your neck and shoulders.

Another symptom of TMJ is headaches that feel like migraines. These headaches will not respond to typical migraine treatments; these remedies may treat the pain associated with the headaches, but will not alleviate the frequency with which the headaches occur. If you have been dealing with headaches diagnosed as migraines but have yet to find relief, then TMJ could be the cause and the headaches will not go away until the TMJ is properly diagnosed and treated.

Other symptoms of TMJ can include:

  • A clicking or popping sound when opening and closing your jaw
  • Locking jaw, which limits its range of motion
  • Problems or pain when chewing
  • Malocclusion, which also is known as a bad bite
  • Ringing, stuffiness, or congestion in the ears

How is TMJ diagnosed?

Our neuromuscular dentists will examine and evaluate your temporomandibular joint for any of the symptoms listed above. We may take panoramic X-rays, which provide a comprehensive view of your jaw and teeth. Other, more extensive diagnostic procedures may be necessary as well. We use state-of-the-art technology to help us in determining your proper bite alignment so that we can treat your TMJ.

How do you treat TMJ?

There are various means you can use to treat TMJ, but we prefer oral appliance therapy. Our team of professionals will take impressions of your mouth, which are used to construct an oral appliance specially designed for treating TMJ. When worn, this appliance places your bite and jaw in the preferred alignment, eventually resolving TMJ and any symptoms of the disorder.

Neuromuscular dentists often treat TMJ through oral appliance therapy, because patients are often non-compliant with a CPAP machine.

TMJ and its associated problems will not just go away. Professional diagnosis and treatment from a neuromuscular dentist are necessary. If you have been diagnosed with TMJ by another medical professional or you are exhibiting some combination of the symptoms above, then contact our office by calling (415) 585-1500.

Glen Park Dental provides care for patients in San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, California.