What is TMJ disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, describes problems involving your jaw hinge joint (temporomandibular joint).

This complex joint contains muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and connective tissue. It connects your skull bones and jaw, allowing you to chew your food, talk, yawn, or otherwise move your jaw.


What causes TMJ?

The causes of TMJ aren’t always clear. It may result due to:

  • Inflammation
  • Misalignment
  • Arthritis
  • Accident, trauma, or injury
  • Stress and muscle tightness

If you habitually clench your jaw or grind your teeth, you’re at a greater risk of developing TMJ pain.


How do I know if I have TMJ?

If you have TMJ, you’ll feel the symptoms of soreness, discomfort, and moderate to severe pain in your jaw area. You might also have other symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Tinnitus and trouble hearing
  • Locked jaw
  • Pain and tenderness in the neck, shoulders, and ears
  • Toothaches
  • Earaches and headaches
  • Trouble opening your mouth wide

TMJ problems also cause grating, clicking, or popping sounds when you move your jaw hinge joint.


How do you treat TMJ problems?

The team at Get It Straight Orthodontics and Family Dentistry does a thorough examination of your symptoms. They assess your jaw movements and may order digital X-rays to produce detailed images of your jaw joints.

Treatments for TMJ include:

  • Lifestyle changes that include temporary dietary changes and stress management techniques
  • Physical therapy for jaw movements
  • At-home exercises to help you with proper jaw manipulation
  • Custom orthopedic bite plates and occlusal splints
  • Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections to relax the muscles
  • Medications, such as anti-inflammatories

You may also benefit from botulinum toxin (Botox) injections to temporarily relax the muscles of the jaws, preventing heavy grinding and clenching of the teeth. This can reduce the continued wearing of a splint or night guard.

If the team finds that orthodontic or teeth problems are leading to your TMJ disorder, they may suggest dental work, which usually involves replacing missing teeth and dental treatments like crowns, bridges, braces, and/or aligners.

The goal of treatment is to enhance your smile but also balance your biting surfaces and better align crooked teeth.

Get the help you need for TMJ discomfort. Call Get It Straight Orthodontics and Family Dentistry today or use this website to set up a consultation.