What is TMJ Disorder and How Does It Affect Oral Health?
The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is what allows your mouth to open and close, as well as speak and chew normally. It’s an intricate, complex network of muscles and joints that contributes to the movement of both your jaw and mouth. The temporomandibular joint is located on each side of the head and connects the rest of the skull to the mobile jawbone (mandible). Each temporomandibular joint has a delicate disc separating a ball and socket mechanism, similar to the knee or shoulder joint. The disc cushions the pressure while the jaw opens and rotates. If a problem occurs in this complex musculoskeletal system, it can feel extremely painful and tense. This is referred to as temporomandibular disorder, TMJ disorder, or simply “TMJ.”
TMJ can be a serious concern when it comes to your oral health because it often is accompanied by problems with grinding or clenching your teeth and jaw misalignment. For this reason, it’s important to have it treated promptly before the problems become long-term and irreversible.
Being able to move your jaw without pain can seem like a dream come true when you’ve been struggling with TMJ disorder (sometimes just called TMJ). When you start to feel pain in your jaw from chewing, yawning, or talking, you’ll likely notice it constantly. This pain can usually mean something is affecting your TMJ. TMJ disorder is a common condition that affects millions of Americans, but thankfully, this condition can be treated easily with the help of your dentist. In Midtown Manhattan, Dr. Inna Chern and her team offer solutions for TMJ disorders to New York, NY patients looking for relief.
Dr. Chern is a fantastic dentist, who makes you feel welcome and safe! I actually have anxiety about going to the dentist, and expected the worst news possible, but she assured me that these things are okay and tend to happen. It’s better to take care of them while we can!
She is a great dentist and I highly recommend her. The office is really nice too!
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Jaw Pain and Clicking
One of the most reported symptoms of TMJ disorder is discomfort, especially when chewing. This pain is usually located in the jaw joint on one or both sides of the head and is usually the result of inflammation. Another common symptom that TMJ patients experience is jaw clicking accompanying the pain and a “tired” feeling in the face, neck, shoulder, and upper back region.
Chronic Headaches and Migraines
Some TMJ sufferers experience headaches and migraines as a result of chronic TMJ issues. These are usually caused by tension and inflammation of the delicate muscles that make up the TMJ which include the elevator muscles (responsible for closing the jaw) and the lateral pterygoid (hold the jaw in position so that the teeth can meet).
In some severe cases, the jaw can become locked in place because of inflammation of the disc, making it difficult to open or shut your mouth all the way. It can also get “stuck” in place when trying to open your mouth too wide. The locking occurs when the disc separating the upper and lower bones of the TMJ gets caught in a position that does not allow the joint to move. Often, the dislocation of the disc needs to be adjusted by your dentist and can be very painful.
Ear, Sinus, and Neck Pain
It’s common for TMJ pain to radiate to other areas of the body including the ears, sinuses, neck, and shoulders. If you experience tension or achiness in these areas, it can be the result of a TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder can also cause symptoms like tinnitus, or ear ringing.
Meet With Dr. Chern &
Her Manhattan Team
To learn more about TMJ Disorder Treatment in Manhattan and your treatment options, contact our office for an appointment by calling or filling out our online form. Dr. Inna Chern and her team will personally work with you to plan your best treatment options and restore the function and beauty of your smile.
TMJ Treatment FAQ’s
Can a bad bite cause TMJ?
A misaligned bite (over- or under-bite) may lead to TMJ disorders over time, in addition to a variety of orthodontic concerns.
Can a dentist tell if you have TMJ?
A part of your first visit with a dentist should include an extensive TMJ exam to evaluate how the muscles and bones of the joint are functioning. You should always mention any tooth, mouth, or jaw pain to your dentist, who can help you find a relevant treatment plan.
Can a night guard make TMJ worse?
If you wear a well-fitting, custom-made night guard to help with sleep apnea, jaw clenching, or another disorder, it should not make a TMJ disorder worse. An ill-fitting guard may lead to worsening symptoms.
Can TMJ affect balance?
The TMJ is close to the ear apparatus and a poorly aligned jaw can cause pressure and inflammation on the balance organs in your inner ear, reducing their ability to function and causing balance issues such as vertigo.
Can TMJ affect eustachian tube?
Because the eustachian tubes are located close to the muscle and bones of the temporomandibular joint, inflammation in these tissues can affect them.
Can massage therapy help with TMJ?
If the pain associated with TMJ is caused by a muscular tension issue then massage is a great way to alleviate the tension in the muscles and reduce pain in the TMJ.
Can TMJ make your ears feel clogged?
Inflammation in the TMJ can cause blockage of the Eustachian tubes in the ear causing a clogged feeling.
Do mouthguards help with TMJ?
Yes, custom-designed mouthguards can be made to help your jaw muscles and joints adapt to a more correct position and angle.
Does drinking water help TMJ?
Drinking water throughout the day will help your body stay hydrated, lubricate your joints and aid in the relaxation of the muscles in your jaw, helping to alleviate TMJ issues.
Does TMJ get worse with age?
When issues with the TMJ are not addressed, very often pain only increases, and complications like loss of cartilage due to frequent rubbing or stress become more likely.
How do you stop a TMJ flare up?
If you have an appliance, its crucial to wear it as soon as possible when a flare up occurs. Other recommendations to alleviate an acute TMJ flare up include eating a soft diet, taking an NSAID, TMJ massage and avoiding opening the jaws very wide.
How long does it take for TMJ to go away?
TMJ can be managed and resolved but the duration and resolution depend on the source of the pain (muscle vs skeletal vs occlusal) and timely intervention and correction of occlusal disharmonies.
Is heat or ice better for TMJ?
They function differently so which is better depends on the symptoms. Ice reduces swelling and pain and heat relaxes muscles, improving blood flow.
Is it TMJ or tooth infection?
TMJ pain and an infected tooth can present with similar painful symptoms.nIt is important to see your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment with a thorough clinical exam and radiology.
What is a good muscle relaxer for TMJ?
Benzodiazepines, Skelaxin and Flexeril are excellent for relaxation of the muscles associated with TMJ pain.
What is the best treatment for TMJ?
The best treatment for TMJ is to see your dentist for a thorough exam and diagnosis of the etiology of disorder in the joint. TMJ pain has many possible causes so there is no one size fits all treatment. Treatment often involves a combination of deprogrammers, appliances, changes in bite, Botox and surgery.
What kind of doctor do I see for TMJ pain?
You can see a general dentist but for more severe cases, there is a subspecialty of dentists who solely treat TMJ disorders.
What muscle relaxer is best for TMJ?
Benzodiazepines and Flexeril are excellent for TMJ muscle relaxation.
Why does TMJ cause ear pain?
The TMJ is in very close proximity to the ear apparatus and any inflammation in the TMJ can refer pain to the ear.
What will happen if TMJ is not treated?
Unfortunately, untreated TMJ will only get worse and potentially cause shifts in the bite, fractured teeth, damage to muscles and bones in the head and jaw.
What will a dentist do for TMJ?
After diagnosing the source of the TMJ problem, a dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments: deprogrammers, oral appliances, bite changes (equilibration), Botox therapy, Muscle relaxer therapy, orthodontics and in some cases surgery to the jaws.
How can I prevent TMJ at night?
If you suffer from nighttime grinding or clenching, it is important to get a deprogrammer or night guard appliance fabricated by your dentist.
Is TMJ a form of arthritis?
Arthritis in the joint can cause TMJ disorders and pain.
What causes TMJ flare ups?
Flare ups can occur with no definite etiology but common causes include muscle spasm, eating difficult to eat foods (nuts, hard foods), opening your mouth too wide,, chewing gum, trauma, grinding and clenching.
Is TMJ a disability?
TMJ can be quite debilitating and painful. If it effects your ability to work or function, it can be deemed a disability.
Is there a surgery for TMJ?
If there are anatomical issues that are causing TMJ then a surgeon can fix those issues and restore harmony.
How do doctors fix TMJ?
TMJ disorders have a variety of treatment options thanks to the development of new technology and research. Mouthguards, Botox, massage, and stress reduction treatments are all effective ways of relieving TMJ pain.
How do you get rid of TMJ headaches?
TMJ headaches are an acute flare-up of TMJ. Wearing an oral appliance, massage and anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ headaches.
Can TMJ cause nerve pain?
Pain caused by TMJ often manifests itself as a headache, toothache, or ear sounds. These are all caused by various nerve signaling pathways located in and near the TMJ.
Can TMJ feel like a sinus infection?
Sometimes TMJ disorder can feel like sinus pressure or pain, but only rarely. Some patients have both issues at the same time, which causes an increased level of pain from both conditions and a difficult time differentiating the source of their discomfort.
Does TMJ go away?
Some people experience TMJ pain in bursts, rather than chronically, but its rare that the condition goes away on its own without treatment or removing the source of the issue.
Is TMJ serious?
The chronic form of TMJ is more serious than other forms. The concern with chronic TMJ is that it can damage the tendons, muscles, and cartilage over time.
Can an x-ray show TMJ?
X-rays have a limited role in evaluating TMJ. They can be used to evaluate the bony elements of TMJ, but do not give useful information regarding cartilage and adjacent soft tissues.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder include jaw clicking and pain, headaches and migraines, jaw locking, and ear, sinus, and neck pain.
TMJ Disorder Treatments and What to Expect
There are several TMJ treatment options available to relieve pain. If you are seeking TMJ treatment in New York City, you may benefit from one or more of the following.
Using devices such as mouthguards, oral splints, and oral deprogrammers can help prevent damage to your teeth and joints associated with TMJ disorders as well as bruxism. Additionally, they can support and stabilize your muscles and joints to keep your teeth in the correct place when you close your mouth, as well as “guide” your jaw into a more natural position when closing your mouth.
Medications and Botox Treatment
There are a number of medications that can be helpful in treating TMJ disorders and relieving symptoms such as muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even Botox. Botox can prevent muscle movements through neuromodulation, meaning the TMJ can effectively recover from inflammation and discomfort in the meantime. Botox therapy is excellent for acute pain and lasts 3-5 months.
Relaxation Techniques, Strengthening Exercises, and Massage
Special exercises can help you get relief at home by relaxing the joints and muscles and reducing inflammation. With regular use, these exercises can train the jaw muscles to move without discomfort and relieve tension. Performing a series of exercises for approximately 5-10 minutes each day can stretch the muscles and relax the surrounding areas.
Lifestyle changes can help manage TMJ disorders and relieve symptoms. In most cases, TMJ disorders go hand-in-hand with stress, so managing stress in your lifestyle can be a great way to start. These changes can also include managing discomfort (and reducing inflammation) with hot or cold packs, avoiding gum or chewy candy, and eating softer foods regularly.
TMJ Disorder Outcomes
In many cases, TMJ disorder is a short-term problem that can be managed with the right steps. That means it will subside over time and you’ll get relief from symptoms with a customized care plan. You may need to take some steps to ensure it doesn’t come back by managing stress and preventing bruxism in the meantime. Dr. Chern will discuss all your options and formulate a treatment plan that suits your needs.
What Makes Our Office the Right Fit for Your Dental Needs?
We never take a one-size-fits-all approach to your oral health. Dr. Chern will evaluate your teeth and gums, working closely with our team to create a custom solution.
Our bright and modern Midtown East Manhattan office was designed with you in mind. Enjoy a calming atmosphere and comfortable amenities to help you feel at ease.
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