25 January, 2023
| premier center for oral dental implant facial surgery

Treatment for Jaw Joint Pain and Dysfunction

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a hinge-like joint in front of the ears, where the jaw and skull meet. Your TMJ plays an important role in movements of the jaw. This allows you to eat, talk, and maintain proper function of your mouth. Pain or stiffness in the jaw joint can indicate a TMJ disorder, which can be treated by an oral surgeon.

At Premier Center for Oral, Dental Implant & Facial Surgery, Dr. Garibyan and Dr. Kuang offer surgical and nonsurgical methods to treat TMJ disorders. We understand the ongoing discomfort of jaw joint pain and are happy to explore all of your treatment options with you. By treating your TMJ disorder, we can alleviate pain and improve your health by ensuring this important joint achieves proper function. Contact our office in Massachusetts today for a consultation if you have TMJ problems.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

The underlying cause of TMJ problems is not always known. Some patients develop pain in the jaw joint due to arthritis, autoimmune disorders, or as a result of previous TMJ surgery. The joint can begin to function improperly following a traumatic injury. There is a disc that cushions the joint, and any event that causes this disc to slip may result in disorder of the joint.

Sometimes the main cause of TMJ pain is excessive strain on the jaw joint, often as a result of habitually clenching or grinding the teeth. Factors that contribute to your TMJ disorder may be unique, and there is no single TMJ treatment approach that is effective for everyone.

Signs of a TMJ Disorder

Patients with a TMJ disorder often experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Pain when chewing or yawning
  • Chronic headaches or earaches
  • Pressure behind the eyes
  • Jaw clicking or popping when you open your mouth
  • Jaw locking, or getting “stuck”
  • Soreness of the jaw muscles

Some people experience severe TMJ symptoms daily, while others have symptoms that come and go. If you have felt discomfort in the jaw joint for an extended period of time, even if the pain is not constant, undergoing treatment can help.

Treatment for a TMJ Disorder

During your consultation with Dr. Garibyan or Dr. Kuang, we will take 3D scans of your head and mouth. These images will reveal the bone and soft tissue structures surrounding the temporomandibular joint and help us diagnose the issue. We will explain all of your treatment options beforehand and discuss your anesthesia options prior to any type of procedure.

Nonsurgical methods will be recommended first. Many patients with TMJ disorders find relief in these measures and do not require surgery. These treatments may include occlusal splint therapy, orthodontics, physical therapy, wearing a mouth guard at night, modifying your diet, applying heat, or using pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. BOTOX® is a minimally invasive injection that can decrease pain while increasing mouth movement.

If these options are ineffective, a surgical approach may be necessary. Arthrocentesis is one treatment option which can help alleviate TMJ pain and increase jaw mobility by flushing out inflammatory mediators and removing adhesions within the joint space. Another surgical option is an open joint arthroplasty which aims to repair and reposition parts of the joint. These procedures are performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. During this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in the skin to expose the jaw joint and make the necessary repairs. If the disc has slipped, your surgeon can reposition it or insert an artificial disc. Any rough bony surfaces surrounding the joint are smoothed down and sutures are placed to close the incision.

TMJ Disorders in Massachusetts

Every patient with TMJ pain is different. Our surgeons will create a treatment plan custom to your needs and we will explain every treatment option so that you can make an informed decision on the steps you’d like to take. Jaw joint pain can make daily living difficult. We encourage you to contact Premier Center for Oral, Dental Implant & Facial Surgery to explore your options and find out how our team can improve your oral health comfortably and safely.