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TMJ Ear Pain | Dentist Beverly MA | Exceptional Dental

TMJ ear pain

TMJ disorders can cause pain in the ears as well as pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders. It’s comforting for most patients to learn that TMJ ear pain is very treatable. A
conversation with an expert TMJ dentist can help to establish the exact cause of this pain as TMJ causes vary from patient to patient, and choose the best course of action to
relieve the discomfort and achieve eventuac l recovery.

How the ear is connected to the jaw

Ears are dynamic organs, they’re controlled by muscles just like the rest of the face. One way to demonstrate this is to place your finger firmly inside of your ear and then
widely open and close your jaw. Do you feel the movement? When one is on an airplane and an uncomfortable level of pressure builds up inside the ears’ eustachian tubes, passengers
often reach for a stick of gum. This is because the act of moving the jaw muscles can help relieve the ear pressure build-up.

How TMJ disorders lead to ear pain

Because the temporomandibular joint is very closely connected to the muscles that control the ears, a misalignment or malfunction puts pressure on the muscles that both surround and
control the ears and in turn can place excess pressure on the ear’s nerves. Also, the pain of TMJ disorder is sometimes transferred directly to the ears as opposed to its origin
point in the jaw.

Finding the unique cause of your pain will help to determine which course of treatment will be used, so a TMJ dentist such as Dr. Benjamin Polan in Beverly, MA will conduct a
very thorough patient history and physical examination to discover the underlying problems.

Symptoms of TMJ ear pain

Here are some listed symptoms potentially caused by TMJ:

  • Sharp shooting pain in ear
  • Dull aching pain in ear
  • Feeling of fullness in the eustachian tubes, similar to the discomfort of ears popping
  • Pain in ears when chewing
  • Pain in ears when speaking
  • Ringing or other unusual noises in ears

How your TMJ dentist can help

Once the cause of your specific TMJ ear pain is discovered, your dentist can offer many different options for treatment which can sometimes require nothing more than hot and cold
compresses, muscle relaxants or pain relievers. A specially designed night-guard designed to prevent tooth-grinding may also provide substantial relief. In extreme cases surgery may
help as well, but should be considered last after all other treatment options have failed.

Dr. Benjamin Polan in Beverly, MA specializes in neuromuscular dentistry and the treatment of TMJ ear pain. His experienced and friendly staff will explain the possible causes of
your pain and work with you to decide the best course of action for your unique situation and guide you on your journey to recovery.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Overview

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an acronym that stands for temporomandibular joint. Your temporomandibular joints are located on both sides of your face, just in front of your ears. The TMJs connect your lower jawbone to your skull and assist in movements like chewing and speaking.

What is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This refers to any dysfunction of the TMJ. Many people use the terms TMJ and TMD interchangeably.

TMJ dysfunction occurs when the muscles and ligaments around your jaw joints become inflamed or irritated. The condition may be acute or chronic, and the resulting pain may be mild or severe.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes temporomandibular joint disorder?

TMJ disorder can be caused by injury to the jaw joints or surrounding tissues. Other TMD causes include:

What are common TMJ symptoms?

TMJ dysfunction is most common in those 20 to 40 years of age and is more common in women than in men. Some of the most common TMJ symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Earaches.
  • Pain in the neck or shoulders.
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide.
  • Jaws that “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position.
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing your mouth.
  • A tired feeling in your face.
  • Difficulty chewing.
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears.
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together.
  • Swelling on the side of your face.
  • Tooth pain.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is TMJ dysfunction diagnosed?

In most cases, TMJ dysfunction is diagnosed during a dental checkup. Your healthcare provider will:

  • Observe the range of motion when you open and close your mouth.
  • Press on your face and jaw to determine areas of discomfort.
  • Feel around your jaw joints as you open and close your mouth.

In addition, radiographs (X-rays) may be taken to view the jaw joints and determine the extent of damage. These may include:

  • Panoramic X-rays. This type of dental X-ray shows a broad overview of your teeth, jawbone and TMJs.
  • CBCT scans. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans capture thousands of images of your teeth, jaws, facial bones and sinuses. These pictures are then stitched together for a detailed 3-D image. Dental CT scans give your healthcare provider a more detailed view of your facial anatomy.
  • MRI scans. In some cases, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to view soft tissues in and around the jaw joints. These images show the position of the disk, inflammation and possible jaw locking. This can tell your healthcare provider if the TMJ disc is functioning properly and in good condition.

You may be referred to a specialist for further care and treatment. An oral maxillofacial surgeon specializes in treating skeletal conditions such as TMJ dysfunction.

Management and Treatment

What treatments are available for TMJ disorders?

Treatments range from simple self-care practices and conservative treatments to injections and open surgery. Most experts agree that treatment should begin with conservative, nonsurgical therapies, with surgery left as the last resort. We’ll explore a variety of TMJ treatments in the sections below.

What are some examples of nonsurgical TMJ treatments?

If you’ve been diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction, your healthcare provider will probably recommend conservative treatment options first. Many of these therapies can work in combination with one another to provide TMJ relief:

  • Apply moist heat or cold packs. Apply an ice pack to the side of your face and temple area for about 10 minutes for acute pain. Do a few simple stretching exercises for your jaw (as instructed by your healthcare provider). After exercising, apply a warm towel or washcloth to the side of your face for about five minutes. Do this a few times each day.
  • Eat soft foods. To keep your jaw from working overtime, eat soft foods such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains. Avoid hard and crunchy foods (like hard rolls, pretzels, raw carrots) and chewy foods (like caramels and taffy). Don’t chew gum.
  • Take medications. To relieve pain and swelling, try over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®). Your healthcare provider can prescribe higher doses of NSAIDs or other drugs for pain such as narcotic analgesics. Muscle relaxants, especially for people who grind or clench their teeth, can help relax tight jaw muscles. Anti-anxiety drugs can help relieve stress, which is sometimes thought to worsen TMJ symptoms. A low dose of antidepressants can also help reduce or control pain. Muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and antidepressants are available by prescription only.
  • Wear a splint or night guard. Splints and night guards are mouthpieces that fit over your upper or lower teeth. When worn, the mouthpieces provide stable tooth contacts during closure. When worn, mouth guards also correct your bite by placing your jaw in a more favorable position. The main difference between splints and night guards is that night guards are only worn at night and splints are worn full time. Your healthcare provide can determine which type of oral appliance you may need.
  • Undergo corrective dental treatments. These treatments include replacing missing teeth or using crowns, bridges or braces to bring your bite into proper balance and alignment.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements. For example:
    • Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
    • Don’t rest your chin on your hand or hold the telephone between your shoulder and ear. Practice good posture to reduce neck and facial pain.
    • Keep your teeth slightly apart as often as you can to relieve pressure on the jaw. To control clenching or grinding during the day, place your tongue on the palate behind your upper front teeth.
    • Learn relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw.

What are some other TMJ treatments?

If conservative treatments are unsuccessful, your healthcare provider may suggest one or more of the following:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This therapy uses low-level electrical currents to reduce pain by relaxing your jaw joint and facial muscles. TENS can be completed at home or your healthcare provider’s office.
  • Ultrasound. This is a deep heat treatment that is applied to the TMJ to relieve soreness or improve joint movement.
  • Trigger-point injections. Pain medication or anesthetic is injected into tender muscles of the face (called “trigger points”) to relieve pain.
  • Radio wave therapy. Radio waves create a low-level electrical stimulation to the joint, which increases blood flow and provides TMJ relief.
  • Botulinum Toxin (Botox®). These injections help reduce muscle mass and inflammation.

When should you consider TMJ surgery?

TMJ surgery should only be considered after all other treatment options have been tried and severe pain remains. While TMJ surgery is the best option for many people, it’s important to weigh your options and make an informed decision.

There are three types of TMJ surgery: arthrocentesis, arthroscopy and open-joint surgery. The type of surgery needed depends on the TMJ symptoms and the complexity of the problem.

  • Arthrocentesis. This minor procedure is performed in the office, usually under local anesthesia. It’s often recommended when the jaw suddenly locks in the closed position. It can also help reduce inflammation in the TMJ. Needles filled with sterile fluids are inserted into the affected joint and the joint is washed out. Occasionally, a surgical instrument is needed to remove scar tissue or to dislodge a disc that has moved out of place.
  • Arthroscopy. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes a small incision in front of the ear and inserts a small, thin instrument that contains a lens and light. This instrument is hooked up to a video screen, which allows your surgeon to examine the TMJ and surrounding area. Depending on the cause of your TMJ pain, your surgeon may remove inflamed tissue or realign the disc or another area of the TMJ. Because arthroscopic surgery is performed through tiny incisions, there is less scarring, a shorter recovery time, less discomfort, and fewer complications compared with open-joint surgery.
  • Open-joint surgery. If you undergo open-joint surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia. Unlike arthroscopy, open surgery is the traditional procedure in which a long incision is made to insert instruments. Open-joint surgeries may be necessary if:
    • The bony structures that make up the jaw joint are wearing away.
    • There are tumors in or around TMJ.
    • There is severe scarring or bone chips in the joint.

Compared to arthrocentesis and arthroscopy, open-joint surgery results in a longer healing time plus has a greater chance of tissue scarring and nerve injury. Still, there are instances in which open-joint surgery is the best solution. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which approach is suitable for your unique needs.

Are there alternative TMJ treatments available?

Many healthcare providers recommend using alternative therapies in combination with traditional treatments. These therapies may include:

  • Relaxation techniques. Mindfulness or meditation can help you slow your breathing and relax tense muscles. As a result, pain can be reduced.
  • Acupuncture. This technique involves inserting thin needles into the body at various points. Acupressure points may trigger the central nervous system and stimulate your body’s natural healing processes.
  • Biofeedback. Electronic instruments can be used to detect areas of stress and tightness in your body. This gives you a greater awareness of where you’re holding tension so you can focus on relaxing these muscles.
  • Pain management referrals. In some cases, you may be referred to a pain psychologist or pain management clinic to help ease your symptoms.

Prevention

How can I reduce my risk for TMJ disorder?

Some TMJ symptoms are caused by factors out of your control, such as the way your bite fits together. However, in some cases, you may be able to reduce the risk of TMJ dysfunction by:

  • Practicing good posture.
  • Wearing a night guard, especially if you clench or grind your teeth.
  • Wearing a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
  • Practicing relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.

Living With

When should I seek treatment for TMJ disorder?

If you experience common TMD symptoms such as jaw pain, difficulty opening your mouth or clicking and popping of the jaw, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider right away. You should also schedule an appointment if you grind or clench your teeth, as this can lead to TMJ dysfunction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can TMJ disorder go away on its own?

In some cases, yes, but it depends on the cause. For example, if you’ve had a TMJ flare-up due to a temporary period of stress, your symptoms will likely subside once the stress is no longer a factor. However, if your TMJ pain is due to jaw misalignment or the way your teeth fit together, you will likely have chronic problems that will only improve with treatment.

What happens if TMJ disorder is left untreated?

Left untreated, TMJ disorder can lead to significant health problems, including chronic pain and inflammation. It can also cause bite issues, tooth erosion and long-term conditions such as sleep apnea, insomnia, depression and anxiety.

How do I permanently get rid of TMJ disorder?

With proper intervention, TMJ dysfunction can be successfully treated. The first step is seeing your healthcare provider for an evaluation. It’s best to treat the condition early on before symptoms worsen.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Jaw pain may not seem like a big deal, especially if it comes and goes. However, left untreated, TMJ dysfunction can seriously hinder everyday functions like biting, chewing and speaking. If you think you may have TMJ symptoms, call your healthcare provider and schedule a consultation. Prompt treatment can help you manage the condition and improve your overall quality of life.

Help for Your Popping Jaw

Is your jaw popping or clicking every time you yawn or take a big bite? You may need treatment for TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. In many cases, ignoring jaw joint symptoms can lead to more disruptive issues, such as difficulty opening and closing the mouth, tension headaches, ear pain, facial pain and more. Therefore, while your popping jaw may simply be an annoyance now, it can become painful and limiting if not treated properly. Our Marietta dentist can identify and treat your TMJ disorder so that you can avoid uncomfortable symptoms and protect your smile function.

Do You Have TMD?

TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs when the jaw joint (and the surrounding muscles and nerves) become irritated or strained. Since the TMJ is responsible for opening and closing your mouth, patients will begin to suffer the consequences when this joint gets damaged or inflamed. The following are common symptoms of TMD:

  • headaches and migraines
  • ear pain
  • soreness in the face, jaw, shoulders or neck
  • popping or crackling sensation in the jaw
  • jaw stiffness

TMD is a condition that can get progressively worse over time and impact your quality of life. Let a qualified TMJ dentist give you a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you are suffering from these symptoms.

Is Bruxism the Culprit?

How does TMD develop? The most prevalent culprit of jaw joint problems is bruxism. When patients grind or clench their teeth, it can put tremendous pressure and stress on the jaw joint. If bruxism persists during nighttime sleep, the daytime often presents with some level of jaw pain, headaches and a popping jaw. While TMJ stress can also occur with poor dental alignment, facial injury or tooth loss, patients should consider teeth grinding as a primary suspect when determining the cause of their TMD.

Treating your Clicking Jaw with a Custom Nightguard

The good news is that while we can’t stop a subconscious habit during your sleep, we can protect your smile with a custom nightguard. This comfortable oral appliance fits like a mouthguard and repositions the jaw to ease pressure and prevent further symptoms. It can also serve as a barrier between the upper and lower sets of teeth to prevent premature tooth wear due to bruxism.

Don’t endure your popping or clicking jaw any longer. Call Gilreath Family Dentistry today to learn your TMD treatment options.

Why does my jaw pop when I chew?

A popping sensation or sound in your jaw or near your ear when you chew, talk, or yawn may be coming from your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The jaw popping sound or sensation can also be associated with pain in the upper jaw or ear and the pain can range from minor to severe. 

Many Central PA patients experience this type of pain, commonly referred to as TMJ pain and when it goes undiagnosed by a dentist, can cause severe pain and discomfort. While pain and jaw popping should be looked at by a doctor, jaw popping alone might not always be a cause for concern, but it is wise to mention it to your dentist during your next routine exam so they can check it out for you.

Even though the cause of jaw popping and pain radiates from the TMJ, the exact cause can be linked to a number of underlying conditions including:

  • Trauma to the jaw, neck, or face
  • Dislocation, displacement, or dislocation 
  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • Tightness in facial muscles
  • Missing or misaligned teeth

Arthritis associated with jaw pain and popping

Sometimes jaw popping and pain in the TMJ joint can be caused by other medical conditions rather than injury or use as listed above. Various medical conditions can cause damage to bone and joint structure of the TMJ which can cause pain and popping sensations. Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause damage to the bone and joint structure in your jaw and face.

Myofascial pain syndrome and TMJ

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that occurs when a muscle is contracted over and over again, causing pain in the trigger points of your jaw and facial region. When you have these trigger points you may experience pain and popping in the jaw and other symptoms including:

  • Pain that worsens with straining or stretching your jaw
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Pain that doesn’t get better within a week

Sleep apnea (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

Obstructive sleep apnea, infections, malocclusion of the teeth, and various other conditions can cause jaw popping and require treatment by a dentist that can appropriately diagnose and treat the problem.

What is the treatment for jaw popping?

When you visit your dentist, they may begin treating your condition with at-home remedies including:

  • Applications of ice packs or moist heat wraps
  • Taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or other over-the-counter medications
  • Eating soft foods for a period of time until the condition heals
  • Muscle exercises that are specific for TMJ pain treatment

If the condition is more advanced or the at-home treatments aren’t working, your dentist may suggest medical treatments such as:

  • Therapies
  • Corrective dental treatment
  • Surgery to correct the TMJ or occlusion issues

The good news is through proper diagnosis and treatment from a dentist familiar and experienced in jaw popping and TMJ is most often a temporary discomfort and can usually be relieved with minor treatments and lifestyle changes.

Before trying to take any at-home treatments on your own, it’s important to talk to your dentist for a proper evaluation and treatment plan. 

If you’re experiencing jaw popping and TMJ discomfort, contact our office today and we’ll help you get in for an evaluation of the condition and begin to help you with at-home and in-office treatments to relieve your discomfort!

How TMJ Can Affect Your Ears Hearing

The temporomandibular joint is the connecting force between the temporal bones located in the skull and the jawbone. Without this crucial connection hinge, you would experience difficulty in moving your jaw from side to side and up and down. These movements are crucial to your ability to chew, talk, or yawn. Known as the TMJ, it is often the cause of problems with certain facial muscles or jaw functions. These are known as temporomandibular disorders, though they are sometimes confused with the acronym TMJ. It is the TMJ that can lead to certain medical conditions, and one lesser-known medical impact deals with TMJ and your ear.

What Can Cause TMD?

There are a number of symptoms that lead healthcare professionals to believe TMJ disorders originate within the various parts of the joint or the muscles contained in the jaw. Trauma to the area from a blunt force or whiplash may also be to blame for a condition. However, some individuals may develop TMD from putting excess pressure on the joint through habits of frequently clenching or grinding the teeth. Chronic stress often causes an individual to keep their facial muscles tense or their jaw clenched subconsciously. Arthritis within the joint may be a contributing factor, as can facial construction or development where there is movement of the disc between the ball and socket joint.

What Are the Common Symptoms?

Many times, the first noticeable signs of a problem are discomfort and severe pain that affects one or both sides of the face. Usually, the pain occurs when opening the mouth wide, as necessary for speaking, chewing, yawning, or other functions. It is also common to have the feeling that your jaw is stuck or locked in either the open or closed-mouth position, with popping, clicking, or grinding sounds that occur when the mouth is opening or closing. Pain may not always be present when the sounds occur, and at times, tenderness and pain may be felt in the neck and shoulders, up through the jaw joint area, around the facial muscles, and in or around the ear. Swelling is also a symptom.

What About TMJ and Ear Issues?

TMJ disorder can impact your ears and hearing. For some people, it can lead to tinnitus, ear pain, and hearing loss. The symptoms of TMJ-related hearing conditions mimic several common ear conditions, but when combined with an experience of other TMJ symptoms, it is easier to receive a more accurate diagnosis. Sounds or sensations include:

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Decreased hearing or sounds being muffled or dampened
  • Ear pain
  • Popping or clicking sounds when the jaw is opened, closed, or moved
  • Feelings of fullness or pressure inside the ear

The extent of your experience with these symptoms ranges in severity according to the severity of your disorder. The more severe the case of TMD, the more significant the impact it had on hearing.

Can TMJ Impact Your Hearing?

Just as the underlying causes of TMD haven’t been fully determined, physicians haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact reasons why TMD impacts hearing. There is a general consensus that inflammation or pressure caused by the TMJ blocks the eustachian tubes in the ear. If these tubes aren’t able to properly drain fluid out of the middle ear, it can lead to hearing difficulties or tinnitus. If these conditions go untreated, it can create more severe problems with damage to the inner ear and long-term hearing loss.

Can This Dysfunction Be Treated?

A doctor or dentist can generally spot TMD through a physical examination, but an audiologist or ENT may also suspect a problem with the TMJ if an individual complains of ear fullness, hearing loss, or tinnitus but doesn’t display any common signs of an ear-related condition. The diagnosis may follow after your jaw has been checked for pain, popping noises, or stiffness. Your physician may also recommend that panoramic X-rays be taken to fully see what is going on with the jaw, teeth, and facial bones.

Can TMD Be Prevented?

Since the known causes of TMD are still undetermined, the best thing you can do is treat the pain and manage your symptoms. If you experience pain when chewing or swallowing, alter your diet to include more soft foods. This alleviates some of the strain on opening the mouth wide and applying pressure. Anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve the pain, as can applying warm compresses on the areas experiencing pain. You may try alternating ice and heat to reduce inflammation or swelling. Learn stress-relieving techniques to help your body relax and stop the habit of clenching your jaw or tensing your facial muscles.

If you have been experiencing problems with tinnitus or hearing loss, the physicians at Happy Ears Hearing Center are waiting for you. Their expertise can bring comfort back to your ears and peace of mind to your heart, whether you have TMD or another condition impacting your hearing.

TMJ Pain | Central Oregon ENT

Insight into causes and treatments

  • How does the Temporo-Mandibular Joint work?
  • What causes TMJ pain?
  • How is TMJ pain treated?
  • and more…

Open your jaw all the way and shut it. This simple movement would not be possible without the Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ). It connects the temporal bone (the bone that forms the side of the skull) and the mandible (the lower jaw). Even though it is only a small disc of cartilage, it separates the bones so that the mandible may slide easily whenever you talk, swallow, chew, kiss, etc. Therefore, damage to this complex, triangular structure in front of your ear, can cause considerable discomfort.

Where is the Temporo-Mandibular Joint?

You can locate this joint by putting your finger on the triangular structure in front of your ear. Then move your finger just slightly forward and press firmly while you open your jaw all the way and close it. You can also feel the joint motion in your ear canal.

How does the TMJ work?

When you bite down hard, you put force on the object between your teeth and on the joint. In terms of physics, the jaw is the lever and the TMJ is the fulcrum. Actually, more force is applied (per square foot) to the joint surface than to whatever is between your teeth because the cartilage between the bones provides a smooth surface, over which the joint can freely slide with minimal friction.

Therefore, the forces of chewing can be distributed over a wider surface in the joint space and minimize the risk of injury. In addition, several muscles contribute to opening and closing the jaw and aid in the function of the TMJ.

What causes TMJ pain?

In most patients, pain associated with the TMJ is a result of displacement of the cartilage disc that causes pressure and stretching of the associated sensory nerves. The popping or clicking occurs when the disk snaps into place when the jaw moves. In addition, the chewing muscles may spasm, not function efficiently, and cause pain and tenderness.

What causes damage to the TMJ?

  • Major and minor trauma to the jaw
  • Teeth grinding
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Stress and other psychological factors
  • Improper bite or malpositioned jaws
  • Arthritis

What are the symptoms?

  • Ear pain
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Temple/cheek pain
  • Jaw popping/clicking
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth fully
  • Frequent head/neck aches

The pain may be sharp and searing, occurring each time you swallow, yawn, talk, or chew, or it may be dull and constant. It hurts over the joint, immediately in front of the ear, but pain can also radiate elsewhere. It often causes spasms in the adjacent muscles that are attached to the bones of the skull, face, and jaws. Then pain can be felt at the side of the head (the temple), the cheek, the lower jaw, and the teeth.

A very common focus of pain is in the ear. Many patients come to the ear specialist quite convinced their pain is from an ear infection. When the earache is not associated with a hearing loss and the eardrum looks normal, the doctor will consider the possibility that the pain comes from TMJ.

There are a few other symptoms besides pain that TMJ can cause. It can make popping, clicking, or grinding sounds when the jaws are opened wide. Or the jaw locks wide open (dislocated). At the other extreme, TMJ can prevent the jaws from opening fully. Some people get ringing in their ears from TMJ.

How is TMJ pain treated?

Because TMJ symptoms often develop in the head and neck, otolaryngologists are appropriately qualified to diagnose TMJ problems. Proper diagnosis of TMJ begins with a detailed history and physical, including careful assessment of the teeth occlusion and function of the jaw joints and muscles. An early diagnosis will likely respond to simple, self-remedies:

  • Rest the muscles and joints by eating soft foods.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Avoid clenching or tensing.
  • Relax muscles with moist heat (1/2 hour at least twice daily).

In cases of joint injury, apply ice packs soon after the injury to reduce swelling. Relaxation techniques and stress reduction, patient education, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, or other medications may also offer relief.

Other treatments for advanced cases may include fabrication of an occlusal splint to prevent wear and tear on the joint, improving the alignment of the upper and lower teeth, and surgery. After diagnosis, your otolaryngologist may suggest further consultation with your dentist and oral surgeon to facilitate effective management of TMJ pain.

What Jaw Pain, Teeth Grinding, Migraines, Jaw Popping Mean?

Jaw Pain? Teeth Grinding? Migraines? Jaw Popping? What these mean..

What is the TMJ and what causes TMJ Disorder?

In this blog, we will be going over a disorder that “some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected” (source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) by and that is, TMJ disorders or commonly referred to as “TMD” or “TMJ”.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the skull to the jaw. It permits the lower jaw to move and function appropriately.

Even with the advancement in research, it is still difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ. Most of the problems arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or within the joint itself.

Additionally, injury or trauma to the neck or head, can also lead to TMJ disorder.

Other causes include:

  • Grinding or clenching your teeth also known as Bruxism. We will go over this in more detail below.
  • Movement or herniation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint.
  • Arthritis in the joint.
  • Stress; which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles.
  • Sleep apnea has been associated with symptoms related to TMJ.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

TMJ disorder will often cause severe pain or discomfort. It can be temporary or last for many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tenderness of your jaw
  • Jaw pain
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing and/or pain while chewing.
  • Aching facial pain
  • Tight or stiff jaw muscles
  • Clicking, popping or grinding sounds inside your jaw joints
  • Headaches
  • Limited opening or movement of the lower jaw

TMJ Diagnosis

There is no specific test to diagnose TMJ disorder. Taking the patient’s medical history and doing a physical exam will help the doctor to determine the cause of the symptoms. Additionally, to help evaluate the jaw joints, the doctors may perform additional tests such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI’s. The Doctors at Chicago Beautiful Smiles are experienced in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. Please refer to the video.

TMJ Treatment

In some cases, the symptoms of TMJ may go away in some time without treatment. Though, if the symptoms persist, there are a variety of treatment options.

Medications

In most cases, medication options will help alleviate the pain associated with TMJ disorder but may not fully treat it.

  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories: Over-the-counter medications are typically used to relieve the pain. Only in specific acute situations, the doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers.
  • Muscle relaxants: these can be used to greatly alleviate the pain for a few days or weeks.

Therapies

Nondrug therapies include two options.

  • Oral splints, also known as night guards, are typically the most common form of treatment. Oral splints are custom-made dental appliances that fit on either your upper or lower teeth. These help alleviate the pressure of the joints of your jaw and the muscles surrounding the jaw. With reduced pressure, the joints and muscles in the area can relax and therefore reduce soreness. Moreover, oral splints make it more difficult for you to grind or clench your teeth which can be a main cause of TMJ disorder.
  • Physical Therapy: this type of treatment includes ultrasound, heat and ice packs, coupled with exercises to strengthen and stretch jaw muscles.

Surgical Procedures

If none of the previous suggested methods work, the doctor might suggest surgical procedures like:

TMJ vs Bruxism

TMJ disorder and Bruxism are two different conditions that are often used interchangeably. We just went over TMJ disorder and now we will explain Bruxism very briefly. Bruxism is the involuntary or habitual grinding or clenching the teeth. Usually, this occurs at night but it can also occur during the day in more extreme cases. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Mouth pain
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Abnormal teeth wear and chipped teeth

Among the causes of bruxism, are:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Diet
  • Misalignment of the teeth

As you can see, some of the symptoms and causes of Bruxism are very similar to the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Here’s a simple table that summarizes TMJ vs Bruxism.

Bruxism TMJ Dysfunction
Is a behavior? Yes No
Is one distinct condition? Yes No
Is caused by another condition? Sometimes Yes
Can be treated with a night guard? Yes Yes

One important thing to remember is that bruxism can be caused by TMD, but bruxism can in turn also cause or worsen TMD.

If you experience any of the symptoms cited above, please schedule an appointment with your dentist. For more information about TMJ, please visit our TMJ page and click here to schedule an appointment.

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90,000 Gnathology. Treatment (TMJ) of the temporomandibular joint in Dnipro

The causes of TMJ are varied and are not fully understood by dentists. Most doctors adhere to the theory that TMJ dysfunction affects dentoalveolar disorders, which are caused by dental defects, rapid tooth wear, mechanical injuries, malocclusion, and illiterate prosthetics.

TMJ symptoms are associated with inflammation (arthritis) of the jaw joint, when the patient can open the mouth about 10 mm.When trying to increase this space, severe pain occurs. These symptoms are the main signs of TMJ.

Arthritis occurs due to two etiological factors – infection or mechanical stress. Inflammation of the jaw joint can appear due to the following infections: syphilis, gonorrhea, brucellosis, salmonellosis, diphtheria, etc. Reactive arthritis is observed in rubella, hepatitis, meningococcal infection. Acute arthritis is preceded by severe injuries, bruises and blows to the jaw.

The main symptom of arthritis is a sharp pain that is felt not only in the jaw area, but also radiates to the ear and temples. The inflammation leads to severe headaches and dizziness.

Pain in the TMJ when chewing is a clear sign of an inflammatory process. It is characteristic that there are no nerves in the joints, so painful sensations are not felt in this area. The pain radiates to varying degrees to the head, face and trigger points. The latter are responsible for the compaction in the chewing, cervical and other muscles, when you press on them, pain occurs.The misalignment of the joints puts pressure on the trigger point, resulting in acute pain.

Temporomandibular joint diagnosis is carried out using 3 methods:

  • X-ray;
  • graphic;
  • functional.

The most common diagnosis of TMJ is arthritis, arthrosis, joint dysfunction. They all have the same symptoms – pain, clicks in the jaw, blockage of joints, spasm of the chewing muscles.

When a patient contacts, the doctor conducts a thorough diagnostic study, which begins with an anamnesis.The dentist prescribes x-rays, tomography, electromyography of the masticatory muscles, etc.

Dangerous crunching. Why does the jaw click? | Healthy life | Health

Meanwhile, such clicks can be an early sign of diseases of the temporomandibular joint, which, without treatment, sooner or later make it impossible to open the mouth. How to avoid serious complications and what to do when a crunch appears.

Our experts: Maxillofacial Surgeon, Head of the Department of Maxillofacial and Reconstructive Surgery of the Federal State Budgetary Institution NKTSO FMBA of Russia, Ph.m. n. David Nazaryan

and maxillofacial surgeon, specialist in TMJ of the Department of Maxillofacial and Reconstructive Surgery of the Federal State Budgetary Institution NKTSO FMBA of Russia Georgy Zakharov.

Where does the sound come from

In order to understand why there is a crunch in the jaw, it is necessary to understand the anatomy of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

TMJ is the only paired joint in the body, consisting of two articular heads and temporal fossae in which they are located.Between the head and the fossa are the articular disc, synovial fluid, surrounded by ligaments and muscles. When you talk or chew, the upper jaw always remains motionless, and the opening of the mouth is provided only by the lower jaw, precisely due to the movements of the joint and the muscles surrounding the lower jaw. If everything is normal, the lower jaw moves silently, but if the joint is damaged, the ligaments are stretched, and the muscles are spasmodic, when the mouth is opened, air vibrations occur in the joint, which give characteristic clicks and crunching.If you let the disease take its course, then soon pain and difficulty opening the mouth join the crunch. Sometimes the process turns out to be so neglected that the patient can open his mouth just a few millimeters. In the most severe cases, there is a dislocation of the joint of the lower jaw, which may be accompanied by a separation of the articular disc. And then you cannot do without an operation on the VCNS.

Avoid complications

But, even if the painful process has not gone too far and the movements in the joint are not yet limited, and there is only a crunch and slight soreness, you should not leave these sensations unattended.After all, the inflammatory process in the joint can affect the ear or the trigeminal nerve. And this threatens with serious hearing impairment, severe pain in the face – pains with trigeminal neuralgia are so intense that they are often called suicidal. In addition, the spasm of the masticatory muscles, which occurs when the joint is malfunctioning, sometimes extends to the muscles of the neck, which can lead to pain in this area and cause problems with the spine.

Complex treatment

For the treatment to be effective, you need to go to medical centers where a whole team of doctors works, consisting of an orthopedic dentist, orthodontist and maxillofacial surgeon, and to which of these specialists it is not important to go for an initial appointment.

Before starting treatment, it is necessary to undergo a number of examinations.

Diagnostics includes the assessment of the occlusion in the cast models of the jaws in the articulator, 3D computed tomography and MRI of the temporomandibular joint in the state of the closed and open mouth, medical photography.

If the disease is already running, then the first task of doctors is to remove acute manifestations. In some cases, treatment begins with blockages so that the dentist can simply look into the mouth, which cannot be opened due to malfunctioning of the temporomandibular joint.In many cases, wearing special orthodontic braces allows you to relieve pain and inflammation in the joint. They are made individually for each patient and relieve the damaged joint. As a rule, such trays need to be worn for several hours a day (they are often worn at night), and often this is enough to improve the patient’s well-being.

Still, treatment cannot be effective if the causes of the disease are not eliminated. Among them:

Disorders of bite.It is necessary to understand that the teeth and bite are the support of the temporomandibular joint: when the bite is uneven, the compensatory properties of the ligaments and muscles turn out to be insufficient over time. They do not withstand the load, the balance in the chewing apparatus is disturbed, which leads to pain. Since the joint, dentition and masticatory muscles are a single mechanism, in most cases, timely correction of the occlusion leads to normalization in the work of the masticatory apparatus and the pathology of the joint is completely cured.

Missing teeth. A joint deprived of support experiences increased loads, besides, in the absence of teeth, the closure of the jaws is disturbed, the bite may change and face asymmetry may occur. Therefore, it is necessary to fill the defect of the missing teeth as quickly as possible.

Congenital skeletal deformities, for example, a progenic bite, when the lower teeth are located on the upper or, conversely, a very deep bite, when the upper teeth protrude far forward and a deep gap is formed between them and the lower teeth.In these cases, orthognathic surgery is usually required. Through the efforts of the orthodontist and maxillofacial surgeon, complex treatment is performed with the normalization of both bite and facial asymmetry.

Important!

On the Internet you can find a lot of gymnastics that supposedly help get rid of clicks and pain in the TMJ area. However, you should not do exercises without a doctor’s preliminary assessment of the stage of the disease, otherwise there is a high risk of further damage to the joint. In addition, the causes of the disease can be different, and in some cases exercise is necessary, and in some cases will cause even greater imbalance in the joint.

See also:

90,000 Is it possible to dislocate the jaw while yawning – information for patients

The main symptoms of a dislocation of the mandible in adults

A dislocation of the jaw is a displacement of the articular head, impairing its functioning. The main signs of a dislocated jaw are limitation of bone mobility and pain.

Types of dislocations:

  • unilateral – a rather rare occurrence, accompanied by the displacement of only one articular head;
  • bilateral – the most common type, characterized by the inability to speak normally and swallow food;
  • full – this is the exit of the entire head from the glenoid cavity;
  • incomplete dislocation, which in turn is divided into posterior and anterior;
  • familiar.

The causes of dislocation include: diseases with joint deformity (rheumatism, arthritis), bad habits (opening bottles with teeth, cracking nuts) and mechanical impact (direct blows, falling).

How to behave after the reduction of the dislocation of the lower jaw, and the methods of preventing this condition will be discussed below.

Clinical manifestations

Symptoms depend on the type of dislocation. Common manifestations include:

  • Difficulty opening and closing a company;
  • advancement or misalignment of the jaw forward;
  • sharp pain radiating to the temple;
  • profuse salivation;
  • Inability to pronounce words normally.

The treatment of habitual dislocation of the jaw should be dealt with exclusively by a specialist. The only thing the patient can do is fix the position by bandaging his chin with a handkerchief. Pain relievers and ice can help reduce pain.

On our website Dobrobut.com you can sign up for a consultation with the right specialist and undergo diagnostics, if necessary.

Symptoms of the dislocation of the lower jaw

Dislocation of the lower jaw is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing while lying down;
  • inability to open the mouth;
  • the lower jaw visually goes back;
  • increased salivation;
  • Severe pain radiating to the parotid region.

Before treatment, the doctor must make sure that it is a dislocation and not a fracture. For this purpose, an x-ray is usually prescribed.

Treatment

Only a doctor should manage the dislocation. Self-medication will only exacerbate an already difficult situation.

After examining the patient and receiving the X-ray results, the doctor will reduce the dislocation using one of the methods below, namely:

  • Blekhman-Gershuni method;
  • to the Popescu method;
  • to the Hippocratic method;
  • Kholorovich method.

How to correct a dislocated jaw using the Hippocratic method. The patient is seated on a chair so that the back of his head rests against the back. The patient’s lower jaw is at the level of the doctor’s elbow. The surgeon wraps his thumbs with tissue and puts them on the patient’s molars. The rest of the fingers wrap around the lower part of the patient’s chin. After that, the doctor lifts the chin and makes a movement of the jaw in the downward and backward direction. Thus, the head falls into place.After that, a special fixation splint is applied to the jaw. The patient should wear such a bandage for at least 10 days. In addition, doctors recommend giving up solid food during treatment. Porridge, mashed soups, vegetable puree are the basis of the diet. You can not open your mouth wide, shout and eat in large volumes.

The doctor will tell during the consultation whether it is possible to dislocate the jaw while yawning.

Complications

If the patient sought medical help in a timely manner and strictly followed the recommendations while wearing the splint, then the outcome is favorable.In this case, there should be no relapses. But an early load on the jaw and the presence of deforming articular diseases can provoke a relapse, and, as a rule, more than one.

Make an appointment with our specialists and learn firsthand the main symptoms of a dislocation of the mandible. Remember that only qualified medical care will help you get rid of the problem for a long time and enjoy all the joys of life.