TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, which refers to the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. Patients with TMJ experience jaw discomfort and mobility problems that can increase with time if treatment is not received. A variety of causes, both psychological and physical, have been linked to TMJ. As a result, the options our Thousand Oaks TMJ treatment expert uses to treat TMJ can also vary.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Early TMJ is often characterized by grinding noises and feelings of friction in the jaw joints when patients open their mouth to eat or talk. As TMJ worsens, patients may experience pain in and around the jaw joints, including on the face and neck. Headaches can also indicate TMJ. Advanced TMJ can result in patients being unable to open or close their mouth.
What Causes TMJ?
Teeth grinding, often caused by emotional stress, is strongly associated with TMJ. Many patients who grind their teeth do so while asleep, resulting in their being unaware of the habit. Arthritis, a systemic problem that affects joints, can also result in TMJ. Finally, uneven bite created by orthodontic problems can strain the jaw joints until TMJ develops.
How Is TMJ Treated?
When evidence suggests that stress is causing TMJ through teeth grinding, patients may benefit from medications to relieve anxiety and depression. Oral appliances that prevent damage from nighttime teeth grinding may also be recommended. If TMJ is severe, our expert in TMJ in Thousand Oaks may recommend injections of corticosteroids into the jaw joints. Surgery can also be used to resolve the problem permanently in some cases. Finally, orthodontics from our Thousand Oaks TMJ treatment expert may stop TMJ for patients who have contributing bite irregularities.
Untreated TMJ can lead to oral health problems and reduced quality of life. When uneven tooth wear is associated with TMJ, cavities and tooth infections can develop. Teeth grinding can damage ligaments that hold teeth in place, resulting in tooth loosening and loss. Patients can schedule a consultation with our expert in TMJ in Thousand Oaks to get a diagnosis of the cause and obtain treatment to regain comfort and full oral functionality.