TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the bone structure, muscles and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw, as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, however, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.
Did you know…
that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD seeks treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me from my South Carolina Dentist?
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Dr. Zechmann will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments, such as self-care, physical therapy and bite splints. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for alternative treatment.
What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ?
You can expect to be heard by Dr. Zechmann. Then you will have a thorough review of your medical and dental history, followed by an exam of your head and neck muscles, joint and teeth. Dr. Zechmann may order a CBCT scan of your joints taken in our office or an MRI taken at an outside facility. Once we begin, TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You can expect that treatment is a partnership, and that it may require multiple visits over a few months depending on how chronic or severe your TMD is.
Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?
Dr. Zechmann typically refers patients to a physical therapist in conjunction with our treatment. She will also review things to do at home at your first appointment.