TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the bone structure, muscles and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. These unique joints not only hinge when we open and shut, but they also slide forward and backward. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw, the jaw may “lock” open or closed, and there can be popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, however, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.
Did you know…
that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD seeks treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me?
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Dr. Roby will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Specialized x-rays of the joint may be needed and a thorough history of the problem will be taken.
What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ
Patients suffering from TMD have three treatment options. They can do nothing and live with the problem, and many people do. If pain is minimal or non-existent, that is a reasonable choice. We can surgically enter the joint, either with an arthroscope (a wand with a camera and other instruments attached), which is minimally invasive, or with a scalpel, which is much more invasive but permits considerably greater access and allows a wider range of corrective procedures. These are the same choices one would have with an injured knee, for example. The third option is to attempt to NON-SURGICALLY manage the problem, which is the type of treatment offered by Dr. Roby.
Non-surgical management of joint disorders almost always involves the patient wearing an intra-oral appliance, or splint, in the mouth. A splint, properly adjusted and worn full time, essentially takes the teeth “out of the equation” thereby allowing your jaw joints to relax into the correct position. Once the joints are in the correct position diagnosis of the patient’s malocclusion (improper fit of teeth) can take place and steps can be taken to enable the teeth to fit together properly with the joint in the correct position. TMD treatment is tailored to a patient’s specific needs and can vary greatly in terms of length of treatment, the number of visits necessary and the resulting type of treatment needed in order to allow the teeth to fit together well.
We are happy to address any concerns that you may have regarding your jaw joints.