The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down as well as side to side so that you can talk and chew. TMJD (temporomandibular joint disfunction) is pain in this joint that can be felt in and around the ears and can cause the person who is affected with the inability to open their mouth. The pain associated with TMJ can range from mild to extremely severe. People commonly affected range from ages 20 to 40 with women most commonly affected.
The cause of TMJ can sometimes be unknown and can mimic other oral issues such as tooth decay, gum issues and sinus problems. To be certain of the cause of the pain your dentist in coral springs will conduct a series of tests as well as a physical exam. Traditional treatments include taking over-the-counter NSAIDs to relieve pain and swelling, muscle relaxants to help relax the jaw to help minimize clenching and grinding of the teeth.
The other treatment for TMJ is a splint or a form of a nightguard. These devices fit over your upper or lower teeth and help reduce the affects of clinching or grinding. The difference between the two is that a nightguard is worn only at night and a splint is worn all the time. To achieve the best results, the nightguard or splint should be custom-made. This means that the dentist will take a mold of your teeth in the office and send it to a lab who will make the device. These work best as opposed to a store-bought brand because it fits perfectly over your teeth while the store-bought brand is universal and can actually damage the jaw joint.
If the TMJ is severe, surgical correction may be needed. Arthroscopy is a procedure done under general anesthesia in which the surgeon makes a small incision in front of the ear and inserts the arthroscope. The arthroscope is a tool with a light and scope that allows the surgeon to see into the joint. This procedure is considered minimally invasive with a short recovery time and little scarring. If arthroscopy is not an option due to the severity of TMJ then open-joint surgery may be required. This surgery requires the entire area around the joint to be opened and requires longer recovery time with an increased risk of scarring and nerve injury.