The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, connects your jawbone to your skull like a hinge and is the most used joint in your body. This hinge, located on each side of the jaw, allows you the functions of chewing, talking, and yawning. TMJ disorders are common but our Lompoc office understands it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your TMJ pain and may need to order special images of the joints.
It is important to make an appointment to be seen in our office if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Constant discomfort and pain affecting one, or both, sides of your face, including your ears
- “Locking” of the jaw making it hard to open or close
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking, or popping, sounds while chewing or opening/closing your mouth.
Most TMJ disorders can be relieved without surgery if taken care of in a timely manner. During your exam a member of our highly trained staff will observe your jaw’s range of motion, along with having you open and close your jaw repeatedly while we listen and feel your jaw. We will then go over your numerous options to treat your TMJ disorder. Some of our patients will choose to wait and see if the issue resolves on its own. There are also anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers that we can prescribe if the symptoms are persistent. We often will refer you to physical therapy where you will learn exercises that are aimed at strengthening and stretching your jaw muscles.
If none of the above options are helping to correct the issue we would then discuss other procedures or surgeries. TMJ Arthrocentesis is a conservation procedure and is commonly used before a more invasive surgery would be suggested. During this procedure you will be under an anesthetic and excess fluid will be removed from the joint; it will then be put back in place with gentle manipulation.
As always it is important to let our staff know of any current health issues so that we can evaluate the potential risks involved with our suggested procedures.