TMJ disorders are extremely prevalent, affecting the lives of approximately 12% of Americans. More women develop TMJ disorders than men do, with women making up about 9 out of 10 cases of severe pain and restricted jaw movement. Fortunately, there are medical professionals who dedicate their entire careers to treating TMJ disorders, with their specialized focus leading to higher success rates and more promising results.
What is TMJ?
While TMJ specifically refers to the temporomandibular joint, it has become a catch-all term for any disorder affecting this joint. The TMJ is essential to the function of the jaw, and when it is not working properly, it can cause pain, discomfort and limited range of motion. TMJ disorders can vary from mild audible sounds like clicking and popping with no pain present, to extremely painful and debilitating conditions that make it almost impossible to chew or talk without severe discomfort.
The temporomandibular joint actually refers to a pair of joints that function together to allow the sliding hinge action that enables the jaw’s movement. Working together with the teeth and the facial muscles, the temporomandibular joints emerge into a system that allows us to talk, sing, chew, and laugh. The joints enable mobility, the muscles enable force and action, and the teeth dictate the place of impact or place of rest. When one of these working parts is out of balance, the other parts of the system are no longer able to function properly, which can develop into pain, locking and popping in the joint and restricted movement.
How do TMJ Doctors work?
TMJ doctors are focused on treating the cause of TMJ disorders, rather than just alleviating their symptoms. TMJ doctors are often dentists or dental surgeons, as they are well-versed in the anatomy of the mouth and jaw and know how to treat abnormalities that lead to sleep disorders. These professionals use a variety of different therapies to treat the underlying cause of TMD, such as oral appliances and orthodontics. They may also use transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) in order to re-set the jaw’s natural resting position. Following TENS treatment, an oral device known as a neuromuscular orthotic is created to promote proper recovery and maintain the new and improved bite position. When necessary, other treatment options may be used, such as long-term orthotics or crowning the affected teeth.
How is TMJ Diagnosed?
Knowing the symptoms of TMJ disorder is essential to its diagnosis. Symptoms of TMJ include:
- Headaches, especially in the morning
- Dizziness and balance problems
- Pain in the upper back and neck
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers
- Clicking or popping sounds while chewing or opening mouth
- Dental issues, including pain, chips, or cracks
- Facial pain
- Tinnitus, earaches, or feeling of fullness in ears
Visiting a TMJ specialist for a diagnosis is the best way to determine whether your TMJ pain is caused by TMJ disorder or another condition. At Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders, we specialize in treating TMJ pain and have the experience and in-depth knowledge to identify its underlying cause. When diagnosing TMJ disorder, we will conduct a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. If it is determined that your pain is caused by TMJ disorder, we will work closely with you and create a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs. Call us today to book an appointment. We look forward to serving you! We serve patients from Bloomington IL, Normal IL, Yuton IL, Barnes IL, and Towanda IL.