The temporomandibular joint is located on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull. This joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions and allows you to talk, chew and yawn. TMJ disorders can cause severe tenderness and pain. TMJ can lead to many different types of problems ; including arthritis, jaw injury, or muscle fatigue from clenching or grinding your teeth.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be alleviated with self-managed care or non-surgical treatments. Severe TMJ disorders may need to be treated with dental or surgical interventions.
Watch This Animation to Learn About TMJ
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- 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
- TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew
TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
- The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
- The muscles that stabilize the joint become fatigued from overwork, which can happen if you habitually clench or grind your teeth
- In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders isn't clear.
Factors that have been associated with TMJ disorders include:
- Sex and age. TMJ disorders most commonly occur in women between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Jaw deformity. You may be more likely to develop a TMJ disorder if you were born with a deformity of your facial bones that affects how your jaw works or how your teeth come together.
- Other diseases. TMJ disorders occur more often in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or sleep disorders.
Preparing for your appointment
What you can do
You may want to prepare a list that answers the following questions:
- What type of symptoms are you experiencing?
- When did your symptoms start?
- Does any activity seem to trigger the pain?
- Does your jaw click or pop when you move it?
- Do you have problems sleeping?
- Is your life very stressful?
What to expect
- During the physical exam, we will probably:
- Listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth
- Observe the range of motion in your jaw
- Examine your bite to check for abnormalities in the alignment of the jaws
- Check for conditions ; such as a high filling, teeth displaced due to earlier loss of other teeth or certain inherited characteristics that can cause misalignment of your jaw
- Examine your teeth for wear patterns that would indicate chronic grinding
- Press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort
- Ask questions about your level of stress or anxiety and how you're coping
Dr. Berry's Laser Treatment Protocol for TMJ
The Class IV K-Laser is at the heart of our treatment program. It provides a safe, effective, non-invasive, painless solution for Jaw pain and injury. Patients respond exceptionally well to treatments and usually notice significant pain relief after just a few treatments. Dr. Berry's program utilizes the latest FDA Cleared Lasers, and combines them with other therapies to help reduce the pain, strengthen the muscles and increase range of motion. Most importantly these treatments help reduce inflammation/swelling, which helps improve overall function. Dr. Berry has been treating sports injuries for over 39 years and has been helping people suffering from various health conditions during that time. Patients seek his advice and care if they want to avoid surgery if at all possible and help you return to all the activities you enjoy.