Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is a condition characterized by decreased mobility, pain, and difficulty chewing due to dysfunction of the jaw’s joints and muscles. TMJ typically causes severe pain in the jaw as well as radiating facial pain and headaches.
When opening the mouth, the jaw makes a clicking noise and it is difficult to open the mouth very wide. Patients with TMJ often have a misaligned bite and grind or clench their teeth. TMJ is diagnosed through oral examination, x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.
If you believe you have TMJ, contact us at South Austin Dental Associates today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Evan Matthysse or Dr. John Chelkowski.
There are oral appliances that help correct the jaw alignment to improve TMJ.
You will come into our Austin office for a consultation so we can conduct an oral exam and take any necessary scans that can reveal signs of TMJ. We may feel around your jaw and listen for clicking noises.
After a diagnosis has been made, we will discuss your treatment options, which include Botox or nightguards. We will take into account whether or not you have issues with teeth grinding and make recommendations that align with your budget and schedule.
Botox treatment involves a few minor injections into the forehead, temple, and jaw muscles. It can take up to 2 weeks for this to come into full effect. Do not rub your face for 24 hours. You should not lay down for several hours after your appointment.
If you have chosen to get a nightguard, we will need to take impressions of your teeth so we can create a custom-made mouthguard that fits perfectly over your teeth and aligns with your bite. When these are ready, you will return to pick them up from the Austin office.
You may need to return for follow-up appointments to ensure that your TMJ symptoms are improving. Botox injections are temporary and only last for a few months. Nightguards will also need to be replaced over time.
While Botox is often used as a cosmetic treatment to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it can also be used to treat TMJ. This is because Botox temporarily paralyzes facial muscles and when we inject it into the forehead, temple, and jaw muscles, we can prevent muscle contractions that cause jaw tension and strain. This reduces the incidence of teeth grinding, relieves pain, and improves mobility by relaxing your jaw muscles.
Patients who suffer from TMJ often grind their teeth when they sleep, which contributes to their jaw pain and stiffness. However, this behavior is involuntary and happens unconsciously, so it’s not possible for the patient to just will themselves to stop.
This is where a nightguard comes in. By wearing a custom-fit protective mouthpiece that covers your teeth, the plastic guard provides a cushion to protect them from damage. This mouthguard acts as a barrier that absorbs the force and reduces clenching.
Self-massage, stretching, and jaw exercises can improve TMJ symptoms.
The exact cause of TMJ is unknown but it is believed that the muscles or joints in the jaw are the root cause. Issues with the jaw’s mobility and pain may be the result of oral trauma, teeth grinding and clenching, or arthritis of the joint. These conditions cause significant strain and tension in the jaw, resulting in severe pain and mobility problems.
The following are common symptoms of TMJ:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Difficulty chewing
- Limited mobility of the jaw
- Clicking noise when opening the mouth
- Facial swelling
- Radiating pain when chewing or speaking
- Misaligned bite
- Teeth grinding
TMJ is often closely associated with Bruxism (teeth grinding). The best way to manage teeth grinding is to practice stress relief.