TMJ disorder refers to problems associated with the temporomandibular joints that hinge your lower jaw. In most cases these problems are related to a past injury or inflammation caused by a chronic source such as grinding your teeth or the development of arthritis.
Initial symptoms include a persistent dull ache near the ears or temples, which could include pain when opening your mouth, chewing or grinding food.
One of the more common causes of TMJ disorder is chronic night grinding with your teeth. It could also be related to a past dislocation, arthritis or other injury to one or both of the complex ball and socket joints.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends a two-stage approach to treatment.
The first step is based on adjusting certain lifestyle factors to try to reduce inflammation in the joints and ease muscle tension. This includes eating soft foods, staying away from hard, crunchy foods, and using heat packs to soothe the jaw muscles. This might also include having your dentist fit you for a custom night guard to reduce damage caused by grinding your teeth.
If you don’t show improvement from lifestyle modification, Dr. L.C. Chilimigras might recommend more advanced treatment options. This includes anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers or specific rehab exercises.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at (269) 964-7660 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.