Disorders related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can cause symptoms that range from frustrating, such as a clicking jaw, to debilitating. Our doctors can confirm whether you suffer from the condition using advanced diagnostic technology. We also offer a full range of treatment for TMJ disorder, beginning with conservative therapy. Dr. Eric Geist, Dr. Richard D. Willis, or Dr. Matthew W. Fowlkes can answer any questions you have regarding TMJ treatment during a consultation at our Monroe, LA, practice.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The TMJs connect the jawbone and skull, acting like a sliding hinge. TMJ disorders are a family of problems related to these joints and symptoms may include:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Pain worsens when clenching the teeth
- Waking up with sore, stiff jaw muscles
- Stress makes clenching and pain worse
- Opening the mouth is painful
- Jaw clicks, grinds, pops, catches, or locks upon opening the mouth
- Sensitivity while chewing
Over time, you or your dentist may even notice loose, worn, or broken teeth. In some cases, your teeth may no longer touch upon biting.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Some symptoms of TMJ disorder may naturally improve, but if you notice ongoing problems, you should seek a diagnosis. During a consultation, one of our doctors will take a complete health history and examine your jaw. You may also get x-rays and a computed tomography (CT) scan of the jaw area.
Once you have received a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, your doctor will determine the proper treatment course. We emphasize a combination of self-care and professional treatment for optimal results. The primary goals of TMJ treatment are to relieve the muscle spasms and associated pain. Treatment options include pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, or steroids injected directly into the joint.
We emphasize a combination of self-care, such as stress reduction, and professional TMJ disorder treatment for optimal results.
Your doctor may recommend one of several different types of oral appliances:
- A splint, worn during the day or at night, can be fitted over the top or bottom teeth to keep the teeth apart in order to relax the muscles and reduce pain.
- A nightguard may be worn to stop the patient from grinding and clenching his or her teeth at night, which can reduce tension.
- An orthotic stabilization appliance may be worn at all times, or only at night, to move the patient’s jaw into a healthier position.
- An anterior positioning appliance is worn night and day and gently brings the patient’s jaw forward. It also relieves pressure on the jaw and helps reposition the disc.
Additional conservative treatment may include a soft diet, physical therapy, and activities to reduce stress. For patients whose teeth do not fit together properly, our doctors may recommend bite adjustment (occlusal equilibration), orthodontics, or restorative dental work.
Drs. Geist, Willis, and Fowlkes only recommend surgery for severe cases. Surgical candidates may include patients whose jaw will not open, is dislocated, or has severe degeneration, or patients who tried appliance treatment unsuccessfully. Surgical options can include arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring.
Find Relief from TMJ Disorder
With appropriate treatment, our doctors can stop uncomfortable symptoms like clenching, grinding, and headaches. To undergo an evaluation for TMJ disorder and learn more about your treatment options, reach out to our practice today.