TMJ disorders, also known as temporomandibular joint disorders, are relatively common and can cause many symptoms, including jaw pain, difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and a clicking or popping sounds. While most causes of TMJ are unknown, the symptoms can often be easily detected by a physician through a detailed medical history and physical examination. Some specialists may also recommend imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis.
In addition to medication, a TMJ specialist may perform a surgical procedure to repair the joints. Some TMJ surgeons use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Others opt for less invasive surgeries, such as arthroscopic surgery, which uses tiny instruments to repair the joints. Open joint surgery is also used in some cases, but is often reserved for severe damage.
Non-surgical treatment for TMJ often results in progressive improvements. The pain associated with TMJ is caused by a misaligned jaw, which places higher pressure on the joints. In addition, dental appliances can shift the jaw into a more natural position, reducing the amount of stress on the jaw joints. Likewise, avoiding grinding and clenching the teeth can help prevent or reduce the pain caused by TMJ.
In addition to nonsurgical therapies, physicians may recommend prescription medications and lifestyle changes for people suffering from TMJ. If non-surgical treatments have failed to help, surgery is a last resort. However, this procedure has several disadvantages, including the high cost and invasive nature.