If you wake up with stiff jaw muscles or radiating pain in your face, jaw, or neck, you could have TMJ disorder. There is no recognized specialty in dentistry for TMJ treatment, so no dentist can accurately be called a TMJ specialist. But Dr. Becker has the extensive training and experience required for accurate diagnosis and treatment of TMJ-related issues.
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that connects the bone on the side of your head in the temple area (temporal) to your lower jaw (mandible). When the joint functions properly, you can speak, chew, and yawn comfortably and with ease. Dysfunction in the joint can result in a variety of symptoms. The diagram to the right shows the location of the disc and the area of the jaw where the condition occurs.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
When there is dysfunction in the joint, you can experience some of these symptoms:
- A change in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together
- Chronic headaches
- Stiff jaws muscles, limited jaw movement, or jaw locking
- Painful jaw popping or clicking
- Radiating pain in your face, jaw, or neck
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
If you have some of the above symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have TMJ disorder. An examination will help identify the cause of your discomfort.
What Causes the Disorder?
Improper bite, a malpositioned jawbone, trauma, arthritis, and bruxism (teeth grinding) put stress on jaw muscles and joints and can contribute to TMJ disorder. In many cases, the joint is displaced. You might hear clicking or popping with jaw movement as the disc attempts to move back into place.
Minor cases often resolve with time, self-care, and resting the joint as much as possible. Some of the following actions might be recommended:
- Alternating application of ice and heat packs to reduce swelling and help the muscles relax
- Jaw exercises
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Avoiding chewing gum
- Stress-reduction techniques, when the disorder is related to teeth grinding or clenching
Other cases may require an oral appliance to relax the jaw muscles and reduce teeth grinding while you sleep. Orthodontic treatment or oral reconstruction might be required to improve the alignment of your bite. Visit our Invisalign page to learn how your teeth can be aligned with invisible braces.
Get Relief for Your TMJ Pain
If you think you are suffering from the disorder, it’s important to receive an examination and evaluation. Your teeth can be damaged and your symptoms will get worse if you delay treatment.
Dr. Becker has the training and experience required to determine if your pain and discomfort are related to TMJ dysfunction. For more than 30 years, he has been diagnosing and treating the disorder. He has received advanced training from a variety of prestigious institutions, including:
- The Dawson Academy
- The Pankey Institute
- U.S. Dental Institute
Dr. Becker understands how an unbalanced or poor-fitting bite affects your oral health. And he will provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the appropriate treatment—whether it’s resting the joint, a customized oral appliance, or orthodontic treatment with Invisalign.
Call us to schedule an appointment for an exam, or request an appointment online.