The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as the TMJ, is a hinge connecting the lower jaw to the skull and is what allows your mouth to open and close and move side to side smoothly. It connects just in front of the ear on each side of your head and is attached to the muscles that control your mouth’s movement. You can feel these joints working by placing your fingers directly in front of your ears and opening and closing your mouth.
When patients experience pain in this joint and the surrounding muscles, or difficulty chewing, the condition is called a TMJ disorder, and it’s not as uncommon as some may think.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a TMJ disorder:
- Trouble opening the mouth all the way
- Pain in the facial muscles, around the ears, or in the jaw joints
- Difficulty biting or chewing foods
- Grating, popping, or clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Increased headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, ear pain, or ringing in the ears
Even though the cause of TMJ disorders is not always clear, it is important for a nonsurgical, temporomandibular joint specialist to understand how the disorder arose to treat the problem correctly. Sometimes the condition may be a result of one or more of the following causes:
- Injury to the jaw or muscles in the neck or head
- Excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Displaced or perforated disk in the joint
One of our oral surgeons will determine your treatment plan based on the specific cause or causes of your disorder. During your initial consultation, you will receive a thorough oral examination, including any additional X-rays or a CT scan, if needed, to pinpoint the functional problem. In some cases, your TMJ disorder may not be severe and can be treated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments such as pain relievers, bite guards, or physical therapy. If your condition requires surgery, the procedure performed will be based on your specific problem.
If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, we urge you to contact our office in Atlanta, GA, for a consultation. Our surgeons are highly qualified in the areas of the mouth, teeth, and jaws and are your best option for correctly diagnosing a TMJ disorder.