Many of my TMJ disorder patients are simply relieved that I believe them when they tell me about their struggle with jaw pain: I have seen how debilitating TMJ pain can be and how it can affect a person’s quality of life. I want to hear your TMJ story and I am determined to find it a happy ending.Dr. Holtzen
TMJ Disorders and TMJ Pain
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders aren’t just about an annoying clicking jaw or temporary bouts of jaw pain. Those suffering from chronic, long-term TMJ pain often have their daily lives affected by facial muscle pain, tooth pain, headaches, ear aches, painful chewing, and limited jaw movement. From smiling to enjoying a meal, those plagued with TMJ health issues struggle to live comfortably.
According to The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), more than 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders – the vast majority of them women. At Alpine Oral and Facial Surgery, we are determined to help find the root causes of your TMJ pain and eliminate it to the best of our abilities.
Our Comprehensive Approach to TMJ Disorders
Just as there isn’t one cause of chronic jaw pain, there isn’t one solution. Even though we are experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeons, we do not believe that all TMJ disorders can or should be solved with surgery. For some, pain relief may be found simply through regular physical therapy, medication, or lifestyle change. For others, pain relief may indeed include a surgical procedure. But for all patients at Alpine Oral and Facial Surgery, your treatment solution will be individually tailored by our doctors based on your symptoms, medical history, and test results.
At our facility, our first goal is to determine the exact cause of your TMJ disorder. Our second goal is to take all possible steps to correct the issue, beginning with the most conservative approach. Throughout the process, we will consult with you, work with our stellar staff, and monitor your progress until we find a solution.
Choose Alpine Oral and Facial Surgery
Are you ready to find out the cause of your chronic TMJ pain – and to do something about it? You don’t have to live in pain and frustration. Schedule a consultation today.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your temporal bone – part of your skull. There are two TMJs: one on each side of your head. Each TMJ consists of a variety of components, including a “ball and socket” joint, cushioning cartilage, and a number of ligaments.
The two TMJ joints are truly unique: they execute a hinge action like the knee, a sliding action,like the wrist, and a rotating action like the hip. Because the joints engage in such diverse movements, and because the two joints are connected to each other by the jaw bone, TMJs are susceptible to a variety of disorders and issues that can cause pain and loss of function.
Many people refer to TMJ pain or TMJ disorders simply as “TMJ.”
The jaw joint is a complex mechanism that can be affected by a number of factors – and sometimes by multiple factors. These can cause chronic pain and dysfunction in the jaw and surrounding areas.
Most TMJ pain and dysfunction issues are occasional and temporary – they resolve themselves with little more than time and rest. However, some people suffer from chronic, long-term TMJ problems that make it difficult to chew, talk, or live comfortably.
Generally, TMJ disorders are broken into three broad categories:
Jaw muscle pain.
A problem with the actual function of the joint.
Arthritis, which causes inflammation and degeneration of the joint.
It is important to note that some patients suffer from more than one of the above disorders
The signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may occur on one or both sides of your jaw:
Pain in the jaw, face, neck, shoulders, or ear, especially while using your jaw.
Swelling or tenderness in the face.
An inability to fully open your mouth.
A feeling of tiredness or fatigue in your face and jaw.
A noticeable change in your bite or how your upper and lower teeth meet.
Popping, clicking, or grating sounds when opening or closing your jaw – even if painless.
Locking of the jaw.
Ear aches, ringing in the ears, and hearing problems.
There are a wide range of causes for TMJ pain; in fact, doctors are still researching TMJ dysfunction to better understand it. In many of the patients that we treat, more than one factor is responsible for TMJ pain.
Jaw trauma (such as from an accident, sports injury, assault, fall, or car crash).
An improper bite.
Clenching or grinding your teeth (caused by nervous habits, stress, or anxiety).
Psychological issues, such as stress or anxiety, that cause muscle tension.
Inflammatory and connective tissue disease.
Growth and developmental problems.
Some research suggests that TMJ disorders could have a genetic component or that female hormones could play a role in TMJ pain, since the majority of sufferers are women.
The treatment for your TMJ pain depends heavily on its cause or causes. Some TMJ pain has simple, non-surgical solutions. In other cases, extensive ongoing therapy may be needed. In still other cases, surgery may lead you to the best outcome. Here are just a few of the common treatments used for TMJ disorders:
Hot or cold packs.
Stress reduction and relaxation techniques.
Psychological counseling and treatment.
Physical therapy and jaw exercises.
Nutritional therapy (such as eating soft foods).
Dental treatments, such as an occlusal appliances or night guards.
Surgery (arthroscopic surgery or open-joint surgery).
The best way to know if arthroscopic surgery or open-joint surgery is right for you is to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable doctor. At Alpine Oral and Facial Surgery, we will thoroughly evaluate you to discover the causes of your TMJ pain and then recommend a treatment or treatments based on our findings.
In many cases, we believe that trying less invasive solutions first is beneficial to the patient. However, some TMJ issues, such as jaw trauma or derangement, often respond very well to surgery.