The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the area directly in front of the ear on either side of the head where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet. Within the TMJ, there are moving parts that allow the upper jaw to close on the lower jaw. The TMJ is used throughout the day to move the jaw, especially in biting and chewing, talking, and yawning. It is one of the most frequently used joints of the body.
Dr. Shelbourne is the only surgeon in the tri-county area that performs in-office TMJ arthroscopy (using a camera to look into joints) for patients who would benefit from this diagnostic and therapeutic option. Our office is uniquely equipped with this advanced, minimally invasive technology.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Uncomfortable bite
- An uneven bite, because one or more teeth are making premature contact
- Painful clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew
There are many treatment options for TMJ Disorder. Non-surgical options include:
- Jaw rest
- Heat and ice therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Stress management
- Occlusal therapy (a removable, custom made appliance used at night to prevent grinding or clenching)
- Corrective dental therapy
Surgery is usually a last resort and is used with patients whose other treatment options have failed. Arthroplasty, or surgery to correct TMJ disorders, can range from minimally invasive to more traditional open surgery, and is highly effective in reducing pain and increasing functionality of the TMJ.