TMJ is an acronym for Temporomandibular Joint disorder. The disorder describes a variety of symptoms that occur when the temporomandibular joint isn't aligned properly or fails to work correctly due to a bad bite or other factors. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw bone to your skull.
There are a variety of symptoms caused by TMJ. The most common are headaches, ear, neck, shoulder and facial pain, popping in the jaw, tinnitus and dizziness.
TMJ can be caused by physiological problems like malocclusion (a bad bite) or by traumatic injuries and habits. For example, teeth grinding can cause TMJ as can habitually clenching the teeth, poor posture, chewing gum and fingernail biting. Stress or arthritis are other reasons a person might develop TMJ. Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are at greater risk for TMJ.
Dr. Nealis can diagnose TMJ by learning the patient’s medical history and conducting a physical exam of your teeth, head and neck. He will ask the patient to open and close the jaw so he can observe mobility, and can feel the motion of the joint as well as listen for any telltale cracking or popping. He will perform a facial exam by pressing on different areas on the jaw and face to identify the location of the pain.
Yes, it can. Symptoms can be alleviated by correcting the bite that is causing the muscles and tendons to over exert. TMJ can often times be improved with occlusal appliances, bite guards or orthotics that hold the teeth in proper alignment and prevent grinding. In some cases, physical therapy may be effective to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. In the most severe cases, surgery might be indicated. TMJ arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery done in an outpatient setting. The most severe cases of TMJ could require complete jaw replacement surgery.
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