When you suffer from mouth and jaw pain, it can be excruciating. Even worse, when it isn’t clear what may be causing it. The temporomandibular joint is a common source of facial pain for many people. It divides your upper and lower jawbones and is the hinge-like joint that connects them. A dysfunctional jaw joint could indicate that you’re suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. TMJ specialists in Orange County can identify the actual problem, its causes and design a treatment plan that addresses the root of the symptoms.
According to Dr. Farzin Farshidi, a TMJ specialist Orange County, has several effects of TMJ disorder that affect more than just the temporomandibular joints. You are more likely to develop serious problems with your TMJ if you wait too long to seek treatment. TMJ doctors in Orange County can help diagnose the root cause of your problem, identify the symptoms and guide you in your search for treatments.
TMJ disorder commonly causes tension headaches and migraines. TMJ doctors in Orange County opine that TMJ disorder is often characterized by headaches. They can be crippling and chronic because they are caused by constant joint inflammation. The headache returns as soon as the pain relievers or muscle relaxers wear off because the underlying cause isn’t resolved. In addition to affecting your productivity, chronic headaches can also prevent you from attending important events in your life.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which wear away your tooth enamel over time and expose your teeth to possible fractures, are associated with untreated TMD. Additionally, since one side of the jaw is often preferred over the other, TMJ disorder may cause uneven tooth wear, asymmetrical muscle growth, and unequal swelling of the face. Your facial appearance can be affected by this. This is a critical juncture when you might need TMJ treatment.
Patients often experience TMD symptoms and pain in their ears due to the close proximity of the temporomandibular joints to their ear canals. In addition to having tinnitus (ringing in the ears), untreated TMJ can cause difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and feeling full or stuffy in the canals. TMD-related muscle inflammation can cause unsteadiness, dizziness, and vertigo because inner ear muscles affect balance. In such a scenario, it is best advised to consult TMJ doctors in Orange County.
The tension and pain that TMD causes can affect your whole body. Chronic, untreated TMJ disorder patients may suffer from numbness or tingling in their fingers and hands, have a higher shoulder, or even see that their heads are tilted to one side when they look in mirrors or photos.
TMJ specialists in Orange County can perform a physical exam and take the patient’s medical history to determine the cause of their symptoms. For confirmation of the diagnosis, the doctor may refer the patient to an oral and maxillofacial specialist, an otolaryngologist (also known as an ENT specialist), or a dentist who specializes in jaw disorders. Health care professionals may order MRIs of the patient’s temporomandibular joint to identify cartilage damage and rule out other medical conditions.
TMJ disorders may disappear without treatment in some cases. Your TMJ doctor in Orange County may recommend a variety of treatment options if your symptoms persist.
The following medications, surgical and non-surgical treatments may help reduce TMJ disorder pain:
- Analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Your dentist or doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers for a limited time, such as prescription-strength ibuprofen if over-the-counter pain medications don’t relieve TMJ pain.
- Antidepressants tricyclics. Amitriptyline, for example, is mostly used for depression, but in low doses, it’s also used for pain relief, bruxism control, and sleeplessness.
- Medications that relax muscles. Pain caused by TMJ disorders caused by muscle spasms is sometimes relieved with these types of drugs for a few days or weeks.
- Oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances). People with jaw pain will benefit from wearing a soft or firm device implanted over their teeth, but the reasons why these devices are beneficial are not well-understood.
- Physiotherapy. Besides stretching and strengthening jaw muscles, ultrasound, moist heat, and ice may also be used.
- Counseling and Consultation. It is possible to avoid aggravated pain if you are educated and counseled about the factors and behaviors that cause it. These behaviors include teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on your chin, or biting your fingernails.
- Arthrocentesis is, in essence, the insertion of small needles into the joint to allow fluid to flow through it to remove debris and inflammatory products.
- TMJ disorders are sometimes relieved by injecting botulinum toxin type A (Botox, others) into the jaw muscles used for chewing.
Depending on the type of TMJ disorder, arthroscopic surgery might be as effective as open surgery in some cases. An arthroscope is inserted through a thin, thin tube (cannula) and small surgical instruments are used during surgery.
Your TMJ doctor Orange County or dentist may suggest joint replacement or repair with an arthrotomy (open joint surgery) if your jaw pain doesn’t resolve through more conservative methods. There are, however, more risks that open-joint surgery entails than other types of operations, so it is important to consider both the pros and cons carefully before undergoing the procedure.