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Understanding TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull and enables jaw movement. TMJ disorders are characterized by pain and discomfort in this area that may be caused by a number of different factors, including genetics, arthritis, habitual clenching or an injury.

Symptoms of TMJ

  • Consistent jaw pain and tenderness
  • Pain in and around the ear area
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Facial aches and pains
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking sound when chewing or opening the mouth

How are TMJ disorders diagnosed?

Your TMJ disorder can be diagnosed during a physical examination at your doctor’s office. During the visit, your otolaryngologist in Miami will evaluate your jaw’s range of motion, palpate areas of pain or discomfort and listen for pops, clicks and grating sounds as you move your jaw. If more information is needed, a CT scan can reveal problems with the joint bones and an MRI can evaluate issues with the joint’s disk.

Our TMJ treatment options

In many cases, TMJ pain will resolve on its own with simple home treatments. Over-the-counter pain relievers, moist heat, cold packs and a temporary soft food diet can all help resolve TMJ pain quickly and easily.

However, if your symptoms persist or worsen, there are a number of effective medical and surgical solutions available, including:

Medication. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants can all be used to relieve the pain caused by TMJ problems.

Oral appliances. Wearing splints or mouth guards over the teeth can sometimes help patients who suffer from TMJ disorders.

Physical therapy. Physical therapy for TMJ disorders involves stretching and exercising the jaw muscles, along with applying moist heat and ice to relieve pain.

Surgery. In the most severe and advanced cases, surgery may be necessary to resolve your TMJ disorder. For many patients, a minimally-invasive procedure is an ideal option. For example, arthroscopy surgery is a great alternative to open surgery for TMJ problems and involves far fewer risks and complications. However, if your pain seems to be caused by a structural problem with the joint, open surgery may be necessary to repair or replace it.

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The pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorders can have a substantial impact on your quality of life. For a definitive diagnosis and help resolving your condition, contact SFENTA today.

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