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TMJ/TMD


Woman holding jaw due to TMJ painTMJ/TMD stands for "Temporomandibular Joint Disorder". This is actually a category of disorders related to the jaw that is marked by jaw pain or stiffness. Due to symptoms and causes varying greatly, diagnosis of this disorder can be a struggle sometimes. Luckily, there are common symptoms and causes to be aware of, as well as numerous treatment options. Joshua M. Ignatowicz DMD & Associates has many treatments available for you.

Symptoms


Symptoms of TMJ/TMD generally affect the jaw, but you can have symptoms throughout the face and head. Some of these symptoms include jaw pain or stiffness, jaw locking or movement limitation, clicking or grating when the jaw moves, and misalignment between the upper and lower teeth. In addition, you could experience pain radiating through the face and neck, ear pain, blurred vision, dizziness, vertigo, and headaches as well.

Causes


There are many causes of TMJ/TMD. Some are habitually-related and others are causes that you do not necessarily have control over. For example, habitual causes include poor posture and excessive gum chewing. Causes that you cannot consciously control include teeth or jaw misalignment (malocclusion), bruxism (teeth grinding), stress and anxiety, arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders, and the use of orthodontic equipment.

Diagnosis


Due to causes varying, there may be several types of diagnostic evaluations completed before this disorder can be officially diagnosed and treated. This generally begins with a consult, examination, and review of medical history. Our dentist may then refer you to a specialist who would then request follow-up testing, such as an MRI. This diagnostic process is more so intended to rule out other disorders rather than confirming a TMJ/TMD diagnosis, since the diagnosis is hard to determine.

Treatment


Once you have a diagnosis, you can consult with our dentist to develop a treatment plan. This may include both at-home and professional treatment. At-home treatments would include habit and diet changes as well as exercises and stretches for the jaw. For example, our dentist may recommend using ice or over-the-counter pain medication to reduce swelling, self-massage, relaxation techniques, essential oils, and/or avoiding hard or chewy foods.

Professional treatment can involve equipment, medications, and surgical procedures, though surgery is reserved for the most extreme cases. Dental equipment commonly used in the treatment of TMJ/TMD includes splints and nightguards which help to realign the jaw and prevent teeth grinding.

Medications that our dentist may prescribe include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, steroid injections, nerve pain medication, and opiate pain medication. Because TMJ/TMD can have roots in stress and anxiety, a treatment plan consisting of anti-depressants, benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety), and sleep aids may also be used. Our dentist may recommend certain therapeutic options like botox treatment, acupuncture, physical therapy, biobehavioral management (ex. CBT), and mental health therapy (for stress).

Surgical procedures are saved for more severe cases. Some of the most common procedures include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery. Arthrocentesis is fluid injection into the jaw. This flushes out any inflammatory byproducts and reduces jaw pressure to alleviate pain and swelling. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure done through a small cannula which involves scar tissue removal, joint reshaping, and medication injection. Open-joint surgery is the most invasive and involves bone or tissue removal or reshaping. For more information on TMJ/TMD and its treatment, contact Joshua M. Ignatowicz DMD & Associates at 725-257-2220 now.
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